The confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson could have been a cause for celebration, a moment when the long arc of America bending toward justice meant that the most qualified candidate to be nominated to the Supreme Court in decades just happened to be a Black woman — and that fact was normalized as unexceptional.
Instead, while there were moments of solemnity and respectful inquiry into the merits of Jackson’s record, the hearings were marred by other moments of stupid, operatic indecency in which character assassination supplanted good faith inquiry. Was this par for the course in a toxically divided nation in which dog-whistling and lying to whip up hysteria for votes are now a regular feature of GOP politics? Or was a Black woman targeted for racism, sexism and disrespect?
Georgetown University law professor Sheryll Cashin would have us believe that Republicans’ hard-line questioning of Ketanji Brown Jackson at this week’s confirmation hearing was just another day at the office for GOP Senators, as if the Republican Party has some sort of patent on character assassination tactics for Supreme Court nominees.
My, what a short memory we have. While I’ll certainly not disagree that a lot of the questions being asked by Republicans were stupid — seriously, Sen. Blackburn, who gives a rip what a SCOTUS nominee’s definition of a woman is? — we are not very far removed from the shameless character assassination of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The Democrats’ righteous indignation at Kavanaugh’s nomination stemmed primarily from the sexual assault accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford, but continued even after those allegations had been largely discredited.
The fact is, Republicans’ behavior at this week’s confirmation hearing were par for the course … but not just for Republicans. They were par for the course for Republicans and Democrats alike. This is the America in which we now live. And the very fact that political professors are writing columns accusing one party of being solely responsible of character assassination are a big part of the reason we are where we are.
Of all the hypocrisy in politics today, there’s none quite so tiresome as the insistence by either side that their side cannot possibly be guilty of the same misguided political stunts as the other side.