March 22, 2022

Following Durbin's Questioning, Judge Jackson Reiterates that she will Maintain Separation Between the Judiciary and Policymaking

Judge Jackson reaffirms her commitment to being an impartial, neutral voice on the Supreme Court, and follows precedent set in previous Supreme Court nomination hearings

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about her opinion on “court packing” on the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

During his questioning, Durbin reminded his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee that while Senate Republicans currently support maintaining nine Justices on the Supreme Court, they have previously played a role in preventing a full nine Justices from presiding over the Court. In 2016, the Supreme Court operated with eight Justices for nearly a year after then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to hold a vote for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia in March 2016.

Durbin also recalled that then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett declined to answer the same question about court expansion during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, saying she “could not opine on it.” Praised by Senate Judiciary Republicans at the time, then-Judge Barrett reiterated throughout her hearing that she could not share her views on matters of public policy, because it would be inconsistent with her judicial role. As Durbin pointed out today, Senate Judiciary Republicans are now pressuring Judge Jackson to share a viewpoint on court packing, despite their previous support for Judge Barrett refuting the question. Any question by Senate Judiciary Republicans on Judge Jackson’s personal views would be a reversal of their own precedent that it is improper to ask nominees about their political beliefs.

“I do believe we should have rules, and traditions, and precedents, but we shouldn’t have a separate set of rules for Republican nominees and Democratic nominees. Judge Jackson, if a Senator were to ask you today about proposals about changing the current size of the Supreme Court, what would your response be?” asked Durbin.

Judge Jackson explained that she agrees with Justice Barrett in that no sitting judge should engage in policymaking or speak out on political issues. Rather than legislate from the bench, Jackson believes that these issues should be decided in the halls of Congress. 

“My North Star is the consideration of the proper role of a judge in our constitutional scheme. In my view, judges should not be speaking to political issues, and certainly not a nominee for a position on the Supreme Court,” Judge Jackson responded.

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.

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