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4 Questions KBJ Can’t Answer That a Kindergartener Can

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has struggled during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings to answer some basic questions about the facts of life.

SO WHAT

So much for common sense in American public life.

WHAT SHE SAID

While every Supreme Court nominee these days dodges senators’ queries in the name of judicial independence, Jackson took the practice to another level in at least four exchanges this week.

1. What is a woman?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asked Jackson Tuesday to “provide a definition for the word ‘woman.'”

“I can’t — ” Jackson replied. “Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.”

  • Jackson subsequently declined to answer Blackburn’s questions about transgender athletes and progressive gender education.

2. What is a baby?

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., sought Jackson’s opinion Tuesday about whether a fetus is a living human.

“Senator, I don’t know,” Jackson said, laughing at the abortion-themed inquiry.

  • “I have personal, religious, and otherwise beliefs that have nothing to do with the law in terms of when life begins.”

3. Are babies racist?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Jackson Tuesday if she agrees with antiracism scholar Ibram X. Kendi that “babies are racist.”

“Senator, I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist or though they are not valued or though they are less than their victims, that they are oppressors,” Jackson replied, not directly answering the question.

  • Jackson also denied any knowledge of “critical race theory” being taught in schools, including the elite D.C. private school whose board she serves on.

4. Can an Asian man become black?

In another exchange Wednesday, Cruz asked Jackson if she believes a Hispanic man can identify as black and thereby receive associated legal protections.

“Senator, I’m not able to answer your question,” Jackson said. “You’re asking me about hypotheticals.”

  • Jackson was similarly noncommittal about whether Cruz could identify as a woman in order to sue for gender discrimination.

HOW WE GOT HERE

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt was among many mainstream media pundits who criticized Republicans’ questioning of Jackson as empty partisan grandstanding if not racist dog whistling.

  • But, Leonhard acknowledged in his Thursday newsletter: “To be fair, Republicans are correct that many of the broader issues are legitimate matters of public debate.”
  • And it was progressives who made these types of questions debatable enough to require adjudication by the Supreme Court.

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