Biden Says Little of Historic Supreme Court Nomination

Biden’s incredibly brief mention of the U.S. Supreme Court and his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson is curious. Her nomination is significant for at least two reasons: the first black woman to be nominated to the highest court, and, if seated, she’d be the first federal public defender on the Court. Just today, Judge Jackson has submitted her questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee as she prepares to meet with Senators in advance of her nomination hearings. Jackson’s experience as a public defender may also help us to predict how Republicans will push back on her nomination: just a few weeks ago, Senators Tim Cruz and Josh Hawley questioned appellate judge nominee Nina Morrison for her own work with the Innocence Project. Although Republicans have increasingly supported criminal justice reform (consider the First Step Act signed by Donald Trump), public defenders or those working to exonerate the wrongfully convicted have long endured claims that they are too soft on crime. Whatever the strategy, hearings for Jackson should certainly prove interesting.

Why then was Biden’s mention of this historic nomination so brief? In short, it’s likely because her nomination is virtually guaranteed to have little to no impact on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future, given the Court’s overwhelming conservative majority. Upcoming rulings on major issues like abortion did get something of an indirect call-out by Biden, but otherwise the Supreme Court may very well not be an area for Democratic optimism at the moment.

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