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Leahy: Supreme Court nominee “writing a new page in the history of America”

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s opening statement in the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson appears below:

Welcome, Judge Jackson. Today and throughout this week, the Committee, and the country, will hear from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has been nominated to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Any nomination to the Court is historic; there have been only 115 Justices in our Nation’s history.  Judge Jackson’s nomination is historic in more ways than one.  Her nomination, pending a confirmation by the Senate, will bring us one step closer to having a Supreme Court that is more reflective of the Nation.  One where diversity of race, gender, background, education and experience allow all Americans to look to their Court and see in its Justices a reflection of the American people.

Judge Jackson, just with your presence here today, you are writing a new page in the history of America.

Who the President nominates, and the Senate decides to confirm, to our Federal judiciary, and especially our Nation’s highest Court, is critically important.  The American people—our constituents—and their faith in the courts is central to our democracy.  The decisions made in our courts, and ultimately at the Supreme Court, affect the daily lives of each one of us.  Fundamental questions about access to health care, the integrity of our elections, the fairness of our criminal justice system, the preservation of bedrock environmental laws, protections for workers—these issues, and many more, are routinely decided by the Court.  Every American must believe the courts are impartial and independent.  They must believe that our courts are not a mere political arm of the Executive or the Congress, but faithful only to the rule of law.  The stakes are simply too high.

Let’s make a few things clear.  Judge Jackson is no judicial activist.  She is not a puppet of the so-called “radical left.”  She has been praised by Republican-appointed judges for her jurisprudence.  Lawyers from the right and the left who have appeared before her in court have called her “judicious and even-handed.”

Judge Jackson is not “anti-law enforcement.”  She hails from a law enforcement family.  She has also won the support of preeminent, national law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police.

And no, Judge Jackson is not, quote, “soft on crime.”  Her background as a Federal public defender would bring an informed perspective of the criminal justice system to the Supreme Court.  I am a former prosecutor.  Confidence in my prosecution of a case was strongest when I knew the defendant had the best representation.  When both sides and the presiding judge have a real grasp of our criminal justice system, that is when justice is most likely to be done. Judge Jackson’s background here is an asset to the Court, not a liability. 

Since her nomination, and again here today, we have heard about the long, distinguished record of Judge Jackson.  A graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School.  A judicial clerk at the district, circuit and Supreme Court levels.  A Federal appellate judge, a Federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and a Federal public defender.  All these experiences and perspectives have provided her a mastery of our justice system, and in particular, the criminal justice system.  If confirmed, she would become the first ever Justice to have served as a Federal public defender, an important experience given how much the Court shapes our criminal justice system. 

Perhaps most of all, it is Judge Jackson’s nearly 10 years as an appellate and trial judge that underscore the experience she would bring to the Supreme Court.  Confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2013 to the D.C. District Court, she served with distinction for eight years, issuing more than 500 opinions and presiding over a dozen trials.  A bipartisan majority of the Senate confirmed her to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year.  She is a fair and impartial jurist, with a fidelity to the law above all else.  This is what Americans want to see in a Supreme Court Justice.

Years of so-called ‘judicial wars’ have left Americans feeling like our courts have become increasingly partisan.  The extreme interests of pressure groups on both sides of the political spectrum have left the American people wondering if they can get a fair shake in our courts.  And yet in this moment, we have before us a unique opportunity to change the narrative. I am under no illusion that we can mend this process overnight. But we have before us a nominee who has brought us together across party lines before. And one who perhaps can bring us together again. The Senate can change course and return to how we fairly and objectively evaluate nominees, with the highly qualified nominee we have in Judge Jackson. 

I am the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  A former Chairman of this Committee.  I have participated in 20 prior Supreme Court nomination processes, most leading to confirmation, and a small handful not.  I have supported nominees from both Democratic and Republican Presidents.  In Judge Jackson, I have found a distinguished nominee with an unassailable record that merits our respect, regardless of party.  I believe the American people will see in her what I have come to learn in my review of her career and life story.  

Judge Jackson’s nomination is a reflection of the arc of our democracy—the arc that bends toward justice, as Dr. King once said.  Although in fits and starts, with every generation, we have sought to become more inclusive and more representative.  We have looked to citizens, civic leaders, elected representatives, and yes, to judges, to strengthen our democracy and to recognize that our strength comes from our diversity.  Judge Jackson’s story, and her nomination today, is part of the evolving story of America. 

Judge Jackson, I want to congratulate you on this nomination.  Despite all the darkness in the world and the political brinksmanship that has unfortunately become a hallmark of Congress in recent years, your nomination fills me with hope—hope for the Court, hope for the rule of law, hope for the country.  One need look no further than the chaos, devastation and inhumanity halfway around the world in Ukraine to know how precious our democracy is.  And how precious a legacy we have in our independent Federal judiciary.  I need look no further than my own grandchildren to know how necessary our fight for freedom, fairness, and equality is.  The independence and impartiality of our courts, and of the Supreme Court, are a cornerstone of the great experiment that is the United States.  In you, the American people have a nominee in whom they can be proud.  We have before us an historic moment; I hope we can meet it.

I look forward to your testimony this week. 

19 replies »

  1. Jackson, like most leftists, seems to have a problem when it comes to light sentences and odd excuses for pedophiles abusing & raping children. But of course, you must be used to that down there in Rome, good Senator.

    • Judge Jackson has a record of convicting, those, particularly, found guilty of child pornography, child sexual abuse and other crimes against children, of lesser punishments than suggested by prosecutors or even legal requirements. This is evidenced by her record and facts. Are we really going to turn her loose within our Supreme Court? What other crimes will she follow the premise that criminals are more important than the victims of the crimes? She, herself, is guilty of a “leftist mentality”!

  2. Senator Leahy lost all credibility sitting in the place of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – presiding fraudulently over an impeachment trial which is now being proven a complete fabricated lie and all involved treasonous enemies of The People. A man who spent this career as a prosecuter and self-proclaimed defender of our Constitution. His judgment day will be real justice.

  3. Nice to know that only a certain type of individual can apply for the job. Anti-racism indeed liberals.

  4. Let’s be clear, Pat, that “soft on crime” is not an objective either-or criteria but simply a matter of opinion. The current occupant of Pat Leahy’s former position as State’s Attorney for Chittenden County, Sarah George is probably not “soft on crime” either according to his frame of reference but we all know better.

  5. When Mr. Leahy “returns home” to live after his retirement from the Lawless Washington Swamp, it will be interesting to see how he fairs day to day living in reality out of “The Bubble” he has been accustomed to for so long.

  6. Leahy is a disgusting, senile racist fool. The black female nominee to the scotus is a total disgrace and is nothing more than a racist criminal. She is totally unqualified for ANY position of authority. Leahy has done so much to embarrass Vermont and he keeps on doing it. Just get out, Leahy!

  7. Her race ,sex, experience with the poor and downtroden is of little concern to me as her job is to know the Constitution and to apply said constitution equally in every case that comes before her regardless how she “feels”

    • Knowledge of the Constitution is one thing, Appling equally, in every case is completely another! Knowing how to manipulate our Constitution, to further her own leftist agenda and that of the Democrats, will be her goal!

  8. Leahy the shill is not credible. He signed onto the U.N. small arms agreement which is basically a cancel vote for 2nd amendment rights.

  9. Even though Liberal Leahy has deliberately worked against our State and Federal Constitutions in his elected position, he will escape being rightly identified as an “insurrectionist.”

    Elitist Politicians like Leahy are not held legally accountable for their actions. That is reserved for us,”the little people.”

  10. Senator Leahy told me in an email, we already have term limits .for senate every 6 yrs can be voted out…..he did not answer the question I asked about Homeland Security Bulletin of Feb 7, 2022. He will no problems returning home, wintering in the south islands somewhere, he has made himself like so many in washington…..quite wealthy..oh yea, thats the other question unanswered ..insider trading on high.
    I wouldnt vote for anyone he suggests..period. and especially now since its only about race and gender……Stunning
    oh and term limits make them all 4 years……pay em double and when your done you go home with NO MORE COMPENSATION…back to the real world, hope you saved some……or have a REAL Job!

  11. Clearly leahy didn’t dig as deep into this nominee’s background as he did with Kavanaugh and Barrett. I wonder why leahy hates America, our Constitution and working Vermonters so much?

  12. I know absolutely nothing about this woman except that her principal qualifications for this position were bestowed upon her before she was born… and probably not for the first time in her career. I would be interested to hear her speak, but I hold out little hope of hearing anything reassuring.

  13. The only reflection I want to see on the SCOTUS is somebody who understands the Constitution as written. Further, she does not fit the profile. I’m incensed that that she was nominated because she’s black and a woman. Skin colour and sex are not a qualifier. We Americans deserve the best regardless of these factors!
    As for Leahy, it’s the same old ad nauseam. Such a phony.

  14. She is a proponent of the 1619 Project and if so, does not believe in our founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So how can she take an oath to uphold and defend them when she does not believe in them.

  15. Name just 3 things that Pat has done to positively affect the citizens of Vermont since he became Senator.

    And, good luck.

  16. While I’m here, Patty’s pick can’t even figure out what a male is versus a female. THAT came out is session this week. She refused to answer the question. You DONT need to be a biologist either to figure THAT one out.

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