WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today rebutted Senate Republicans’ misrepresentations of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record, President Biden’s nominee to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.
“Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee was busy. We met for over 30 hours to consider the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. During the meeting of the Committee, hundreds of questions were posed to Judge Jackson… I was one of the millions who will came away from last week’s hearing deeply impressed with Judge Jackson,” Durbin said. “But it appears some of our Republican colleagues are more reluctant to support her at this moment… They have reservations and I’ve spoken to some of them and listened to their statements. They say they don’t have any questions about her qualifications or experience. Well, thank goodness. She has a stellar resume… Unfortunately, some of the members of the Committee misrepresented her record on several issues, and I’d like to try to set it straight at this moment.”
During his speech, Durbin pushed back on accusations that Judge Jackson declined to answer questions on her judicial philosophy during last week’s nomination hearing.
“There seems to be this passion among some Republicans to get this nominee to state in a word or two her judicial philosophy,” Durbin said. “When it comes to Judge Jackson, those who seek her judicial philosophy and want a simple label one way or the other just [haven’t] done their homework… This woman, this jurist has not held back in explaining in case after case how she views the law. It’s there for the reading. Every member of the Senate and the public have access to that information to get the true measure of her judicial philosophy. What she said over and over again at the hearing was ‘I believe in judicial restraint.’ I think that’s exactly what we need in a judge, personally. That’s exactly what you’ll find when you review the hundreds of opinions that she has written to date.”
Durbin also rebutted claims that Judge Jackson either supports or won’t comment on the issue of “court packing.”
“Then there is this litmus test question that meant so much to Senator McConnell, the Republican Leader in the Senate, he led off his opposition to Judge Jackson on the issue. And the issue quite simply is whether or not Judge Jackson is willing to say what her position is on increasing the number of Justices serving on the Supreme Court,” Durbin said. “So when it came to Senator McConnell’s opposition to Judge Jackson because she said it’s a policy matter to be decided by Congress, not to be decided by the Court as to the composition and number on the Supreme Court, Senator McConnell went on to say that disqualified her… Well, you might ask Senator McConnell, how did the previous nominee, Amy Coney Barrett… how did she answer this probing threshold question when it came to the future composition of the Supreme Court? She said virtually, exactly what Judge Jackson said… That was an acceptable answer with Amy Coney Barrett, but for Senator McConnell, it’s an unacceptable answer when it comes to Judge Jackson.”
Finally, Durbin pushed back on claims that Judge Jackson is “soft on crime,” including her previous work as a federal public defender and representation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
“The other questions raised were about her legal representation… If the court appoints you as a defender or as an attorney to represent someone who is an indigent client, you often have a client before you who is not necessarily a savory character and might have some questionable background. Your job is to be a zealous advocate for that client, but never to lie to the court. Stick with the truth, do your best, represent them in the course of litigation. That’s what Judge Jackson has done in her private practice and in her years working as a federal public defender,” Durbin said. “Some of them were opposed to Judge Jackson because she represented detainees at Guantanamo Bay. That’s curious because these same lawmakers once claimed that judicial nominees should not be held accountable for the views and actions of their clients.”
Durbin continued, “Finally, some of our Republican colleagues have accused Judge Jackson of being ‘soft on crime’… to claim… that somehow Judge Jackson was soft when it came to child predators or endangering children is just inaccurate and, frankly, insulting. Look at the facts. Judge Jackson is well within the judicial mainstream of 70 to 80 percent of [sentences by] federal judges when it comes to child pornography offenders. Not out of the mainstream—in it. And she put many behind bars for decades.”
Durbin concluded, “Judge Jackson’s forthright responses showed the American public why she deserves this historic opportunity. She is a brilliant jurist, evenhanded, with a model temperament… I’m honored to support Judge Jackson. I look forward to our Judiciary Committee vote on her nomination next Monday.”
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.