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Durbin Questions Judge Jackson on Freedom of the Press

With various ways to receive information and new technology, Durbin questions Judge Jackson on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about interpreting the First Amendment, specifically freedom of the press, given the evolving technology that is available today compared to when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, at the third day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Durbin said, “How do you move from the language of 1789, 1790, to the reality of [the] 21st century and make sure it is relevant? How do you reconcile that conflict of the changing times, the dramatic changes in technology, with [what] the Founding Fathers envisioned and what we face today?”

Judge Jackson replied, “The challenges that you identify are the types of things that the Supreme Court is now dealing with. We have a foundational document that has text and principles. It establishes freedoms and foundational important concepts that are intended to govern us and that we are bound by as a society. There are modern technologies, as you say, that the framers and founders could not have imagined…As I mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court and every court deals with individual cases, disputes about issues, and when the court gets an issue that requires constitutional interpretation, it looks at the facts and circumstances of the particular case and the text and principles of the Constitution in light of the times in which they were written and analogize this to present day.”

Judge Jackson also spoke on unreasonable searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment.

Judge Jackson continued, “What the Supreme Court has done is looked back at the time of the founding to determine what kinds of intrusion would have been covered when those words were written into the Constitution. And to the extent that at the time of the founding, those words covered things like police officers intruding into your home and looking into your papers and affairs, then, the Supreme Court analogize this circumstance to the modern-day circumstance of a cell phone, which now, is in all respects, says the Court, like rifling through your papers and affairs. It is a process of understanding what the core foundational principles are in the Constitution as captured by the text as originally intended and then applying those principles to modern-day.”

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.