March 24, 2022

Durbin Rebuts McConnell's Reasons for Opposing Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court

Durbin: When you realize these are the best arguments Republicans can come up with against Judge Jackson, you realize it doesn’t pass muster

WASHINGTON – After the final day of hearings on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today rebutted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) explanation for opposing this exceptional nominee—including accusations that she supports court packing, declined to answer questions on her judicial philosophy, and that she is “soft on crime.”

“It seems that he [McConnell] is as concerned as many Republicans are with the notion of packing the Court… There is only one United States Senator who has had a direct impact on the composition of the United States Supreme Court in modern memory.  Who was that Senator?  It was Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.  Because he decided to keep the Court at eight Justices for almost a year after the death of Antonin Scalia.  He refused to give President Obama his constitutional and legal option of filling the vacancy of Justice Scalia, and for a year, Mitch McConnell, for his own political purposes, kept the Court composition at eight,” said Durbin.  “When asked if she [Judge Jackson] wanted to pack the Court, she said, ‘Senator, that is not my job.  I would be a judge.  You’re a legislator, you would have the power, if you wish, to change the composition of the Court.  I don’t have that authority.’  To make that the number one reason for not supporting her nomination is less than compelling.”

“And he [McConnell] brought up, ‘what is your judicial philosophy? We want to make sure we know,’” Durbin said.  “She has said that I have published 578 written opinions.  You want to know what I think about the law?  Here is my body of work.  Take a look at it on almost any topic under the sun.  So if you want to know how she rules and what she thinks… her words already speak for themselves and she’s been very open and provides 12,000 pages from her time on the Sentencing Commission that also reflect her views on very important topics.”

Durbin continued, “The Republicans are testing their messages for the November election.  I bet you’ve heard some of them.  One of them is Democrats are ‘soft on crime.’  They said that about Judge Jackson, but they’ve got a problem.  Judge Jackson has been endorsed by… the International Association of Chiefs of Police and NOBLE, [an organization of] Black law enforcement officials across the United States, in addition to other law enforcement leaders. She has a history in her family of [her] brother and… uncles, who have been in law enforcement, risking their lives for the safety of our communities over and over… To argue that she is ‘soft on crime’ ignores the obvious… There is also the question of giving light sentences.  We spent more time on this than one could imagine.  Three or four Republican Senators were dwelling on her sentencing in a handful of cases and wouldn’t let go of it day after day for two straight days.  And yet they refuse to acknowledge, and her reality is, that her choice of sentencing… [was] within the same limits and boundaries of 70 percent of federal judges, in some regions 80 percent.  She was not out of the mainstream, she was directly in the mainstream when it came to sentencing.”

Durbin concluded, “When you look at these facts and realize that here’s our opportunity to put the first African American woman on the United States Supreme Court and that these are the best arguments they can come up with against her, it really troubles me.  I sincerely hope, I really hope not just because I want to make sure she’s on the Court, that we will have bipartisan support for her nomination.  If this turns out to be a strictly partisan vote with this historic opportunity, it will be sad—sad for our country and sad as a commentary on where the parties are today.  I’m hoping, I’m still hoping that several Republicans—I hope many more—will step up and support her nomination.  I’m disappointed by Senator McConnell’s position, but I’m not surprised.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.

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