An explainer of the Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings

So much of the hearings have become political theater, says University of Detroit Mercy’s law school dean, noting that some Republican senators are exploiting the moment to rile up their constituents.


If confirmed, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would be the first African American woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and cum laude from Harvard Law School.

A former public defender, she is now a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, and is undergoing Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.

“They’re not so much questioning the nominee or trying to understand the nominee’s point of view, they’re speaking to their voters.” — Jelani Jefferson Exum, University of Detroit Mercy Law School

Listen: How Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is handling the confirmation hearings.



Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan and former U.S. attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

She says U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Republicans cherry-picked evidence to paint Jackson as soft on crime, particular for people who pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography. But McQuade notes that when Jackson was given the full opportunity to defend her record, she did so eloquently.

“She’s a really smart and careful judge who, I think, will bring that same sensibility to the Supreme Court,” says McQuade.

Jelani Jefferson Exum is the dean of the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. Exum says Judge Jackson has to be careful as to not give senators an opportunity to manipulate what she’s saying for their benefit.

“They’re not so much questioning the nominee or trying to understand the nominee’s point of view, they’re speaking to their voters,” she says.

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