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Friday, December 2, 2022

Boyd: Dog whistles became blatant during Supreme Court confirmation hearing

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I knew when President Joe Biden held true to his word and nominated a Black woman, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the Supreme Court, the confirmation hearing would be must-watch TV.

I knew there would be tough questions from Republicans. I knew there would be racist and sexist dog whistles. I knew it would be interesting.

I didn’t know it would be a crap show. I didn’t know it would get downright embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch.

I wanted to learn more about Jackson and her legal expertise. I wanted tough questions. I wanted her to prove to those who questioned her credentials and asked if she’s the best person for the job that indeed she is. I expected softballs from the Democrats and hardballs from Republicans.

Again, I didn’t expect a crap show, but that’s what I — and everyone else — got. Forget about dog whistles. We got downright blatant racist and misogynistic questions. We were treated to a red-faced Sen. Lindsey Graham as well as Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley questioning her ad nauseum about child pornography cases she’s adjudicated. Sen. Tom Cotton also got in a few potshots too.

Graham looked as if he had an axe to grind. He wanted retribution for past confirmation hearings, and he planned to take his anger out on Jackson. By the way, he didn’t have that energy when he confirmed Jackson as a federal appellate court judge about a year ago. What changed, Lindsey?

Questions were asked without giving Jackson a chance to answer before the next one came. The senators argued with the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin. They went over their allotted time and seemed to forget all sense of propriety and decorum. Again, this was embarrassing.

This was nothing but a performance of posturing and grandstanding that made it difficult to take these senators seriously. Is this what America’s come to? Our elected officials do things just for show for their constituents. Quite frankly, it was a dereliction of duty as we got nothing of substance from the hearings.

God bless Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Jackson withstood it all with a stoicism to which Will Smith can only aspire. She sat there day after day, listening to attacks on her character and knowing she had to choose her words carefully with each response. Being a Black woman, Jackson knew every facial expression and her body language would be scrutinized to the nth degree. Talk about being under a microscope. She sat there knowing a daughter, her mother and husband were seated nearby and had to watch her endure this theatrical performance better known as a confirmation hearing. I can only imagine how her family felt at this misogynistic line of questioning. They all held their composure throughout the day only to return the next day and do it again. I was exhausted just watching on my computer. I couldn’t feel the tension in the room or look directly into the eyes of the people causing so much pain.

God bless Jackson and her family.

Not only was I exhausted with the line of questioning, but I was also frustrated since the senators, who are lawyers, wouldn’t acknowledge they are a big part of the problem when it comes to child pornography. Like most judges in this country, Jackson followed sentences guidelines established by Congress in 1987. Her record is not out of line with other judges, but you wouldn’t know that from the disingenuous line of questioning. None of the senators took responsibility and said they need to update the sentencing guidelines to coincide with today’s internet era. No, they kept placing the blame squarely at Jackson’s feet. If the senators care so deeply about child pornography the way they pretended to, I expect to see a bill addressing sentencing guidelines.

In the confirmation hearing of a Black female judge, privileged, mediocre white men became the focal point. I believe these senators wanted to steal the show from Jackson. I believe Jackson will have the last laugh, though, when she’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. She’ll be more than a footnote in history.

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