OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson laughed and said “I don’t know” on Wednesday when asked a rather simple question about abortion.
During the third day of her Senate confirmation hearing, Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy asked Brown — who is Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court, about abortion — when she thought life began.
Jackson dodged the question, replying, “I don’t know,” then laughed.
Kennedy asked, “When does life begin, in your opinion?”
“Senator, I don’t know,” Jackson answered as she laughed uncomfortably.
“Ma’am?” Kennedy queried.
“I don’t know,” Jackson repeated.
“You have a belief?” Kennedy persisted.
“I have personal, religious, and otherwise beliefs that have nothing to do with the law in terms of when life begins,“ Jackson responded.
“Do you have a personal belief, though, about when life begins?” Kennedy prodded.
“I have a religious view —” Jackson started.
“A religious belief?” Kennedy interjected.
“ — that I set aside when I am ruling on cases,” Jackson finished.
“Okay. When does equal protection of the laws attach to a human being?” Kennedy shifted.
“Well, Senator, I believe the Supreme Court — actually — actually I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m sorry. I don’t,” Jackson dodged.
As noted by The Washington Post, Jackson’s made her position on abortion quite clear in the past.
The outlet noted:
… she ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to cut grant funding under the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. In Policy and Research v. HHS, she found that the administration had not properly grounded its action in the mandates of the Administrative Procedure Act. As a lawyer in private practice, Jackson wrote an amicus brief on behalf of women’s groups defending a Massachusetts law that kept abortion protesters away from the entrances of facilities.
On Tuesday, Jackson refused to offer a direct answer when asked about packing the Supreme Court with liberal judges.
Below is a transcript of the exchange:
DURBIN: “Another issue which has come up to my surprise, and I have spoken with my Republican colleagues about their fascination with it, is the notion of the composition of the Supreme Court, which euphemistically is referred to as court-packing. I have said on the floor, and I will repeat it here, there is exactly one living senator who has effectively changed the size of the Supreme Court. That was the Republican leader, Sen. McConnell, who shrank the court to eight seats for nearly a year in 2016 when he blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Now, that question on court-packing was posed to Amy Coney Barrett, justice on the court, when she appeared before this committee, she was asked about it. She said, and I quote, ‘Could not opine on it.’ And on many other policy issues, quote, ‘I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial, because that is inconsistent with the judicial role.’ I do believe we should have rules and traditions and precedents, but we shouldn’t have a separate set of rules for Republican nominees and Democratic nominees. So, Judge Jackson, if a senator were to ask you today about proposals about changing the current size of the Supreme Court, what would your response be?”
JACKSON: “Senator, I agree with Justice Barrett and her response to that question when she was asked before this committee. Again, my north star is the consideration of the proper role of a judge in our constitutional scheme. In my view, judges should not be speaking to political issues, and certainly not a nominee for a position on the Supreme Court. So, I agree with Justice Barrett.”