When is the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Ketanji Brown Jackson?
The hearing is set to start on Monday, March 21st and last through Thursday, March 24th.
Who are the Senators that sit on the Judiciary Committee?
Since the Senate is currently divided 50-50, the Judiciary Committee consists of an equal number of 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans. The new Chair of the Committee is Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Illinois), opposite Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (Iowa).
The other Democrats sitting on the committee are: Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Dianne Feinstein (California), Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Chris Coons (Delaware), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Cory Booker (New Jersey), Alex Padilla (California) and Jon Ossoff (Georgia).
The other Republicans sitting on the committee are: Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Josh Hawley (Missouri), Tom Cotton (Arkansas), John Kennedy (Louisiana), Thom Tillis (North Carolina) and Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee).
What will the schedule for this hearing look like?
If it’s anything like recent hearings, it will begin with 10 minute opening statements from each Committee member. The nominee will then be sworn in and deliver her own opening statement.
For the first round of questioning, each Senator will get 30 minutes to ask the nominee questions. In the second round, it will be 20 minutes, and if there’s another round, 10 minutes. Afterward, some outside interest groups may be called to testify for and against the nominee. Barring any surprises, the hearings will last for four days.
Will the Committee’s vote on Judge Brown Jackson ultimately be along party lines?
Probably. All three of Donald Trump’s nominees received a party-line vote in the Judiciary Committee. A crossover hasn’t occurred since Lindsey Graham voted for President Obama’s nominee Elena Kagan in 2010.
Hey, when was the Senate Judiciary Committee first formed?
Along with the Senate’s Finance and Foreign Relations Committees, the Judiciary Committee is one of the longest-standing Congressional bodies. They were all established on December 10, 1816. Back then, James Madison was in the final months of his Presidency, there were only 18 U.S. states and Napoleon was still alive.
When was the first Judiciary Committee hearing for a Supreme Court nominee?
Well, the answer here is a bit complex, as the first hearings didn’t include the actual nominee.
When Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis, a well-known progressive champion, to the Court in January 1916 he faced a firestorm of criticism. Brandeis’ career as a crusader against corporate power, as well as his Jewish faith, infuriated the establishment.
Opposition to Brandeis was so intense that a subcommittee held unprecedented open hearings on the nomination for weeks. While Brandeis himself was never invited, several others testified for and against him.
On June 1st, the Senate finally confirmed Brandeis by a vote of 47 to 22. One Democrat was opposed while three progressive Republicans were in favor. The upcoming presidential election (the Republican National Convention was just days away) may have inspired these partisan divides.
OK then, who was the first Supreme Court nominee to actually testify in front of the Committee?
In January 1925, Calvin Coolidge nominated his Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone to the Supreme Court. Stone faced accusations that an investigation of Sen. Burton Wheeler was retribution for Wheeler’s own probe into the Teapot Dome scandal.
The practice of open hearings was used on and off until the tradition was crystallized for John Marshall Harlan II’s 1955 hearing.
Who was the first Supreme Court nominee whose hearing was televised?
Finally, what are some other notable past Supreme Court nomination hearings?
Besides the ones mentioned above, we should probably start with Justice Abe Fortas. Fortas was a long-time close advisor to LBJ (read Robert Caro’s Means of Ascent to find out how Fortas helped Johnson steal his first Senate election) who was elevated to the Court in 1965. When Johnson tried to give Fortas the top job after Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his intent to retire, however, Republicans led a furious charge to deny him the promotion.
Strom Thurmond questioned Fortas for hours at his hearing about a litany of recent Supreme Court decisions, all while Fortas contended he could not reveal the Court’s deliberations. Eventually, Thurmond led a filibuster to block Fortas’ promotion. A few months later, amid scrutiny of numerous potential conflicts of interest, Fortas resigned from the Court.
In 1969, when new President Richard Nixon sought to fill that seat with Clement Haynesworth, Democrats hammered the Judge over his own business conflicts. Haynesworth failed to win confirmation, so Nixon nominated segregationist G. Harrold Carswell in his place. Carswell’s “I am not a racist” plea to the committee didn’t work and his nomination failed too.
The first real televised spectacle, though, was Robert Bork’s September 1987 hearing. Bork was a conservative legal superstar who inspired fierce opposition from liberals. Senate Democrats, led by Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden, peppered Bork with questions on his views of the law. Bork’s prickly demeanor ultimately cost him, with polls showing the public turning against him after the hearing. The Senate would go on to reject Bork by a 42-58 vote.
The final pair of notable hearings are probably the most notorious of all. In 1991 and 2018, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh each faced serious personal allegations. Thomas was accused by Anita Hill of numerous acts of workplace sexual harassment, while Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of attempted sexual assault.
Both women were invited by the Senate to publicly testify, and both nominees angrily denied the accusations as politically motivated. Polls suggest that back in 1991 the public believed Thomas over Hill, but by 2018 they trusted Ford more than Kavanaugh. Regardless, both men were narrowly confirmed to the Court and serve together today.