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Tipsheet

Booker Contends Democrats Are Not at Fault for How Contentious Supreme Court Hearings Have Become

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on Sunday railed against Republican questioning of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson last week during her confirmation hearings and suggested that Democrats' past treatment of conservative nominees was necessary.

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During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," after host Chuck Todd asked how to fix the "broken" confirmation hearings that become increasingly partisan in recent years, Booker slammed Republicans' line of questioning for Jackson as "outrageous" and "beyond the pale."

The senator explained that Democrats are frustrated after Senate Republicans in 2016 blocked former President Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.

"I think that we've seen sort of the legitimacy of the court really suffer partly as a result of the tactics that we've seen going on in the Senate," Booker said, adding that it is not a "simple conclusion" that Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for confirmation hearings becoming increasingly contentious in recent years.

Pointing to the hearings in 2018 for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in which the justice was falsely accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school, Booker said those hearings required contentious questioning. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him.

"There were extraordinary realities in the Kavanaugh hearings that I think demanded for that to be as contentious as it was and not just allowing it to go through without these extraordinary realities coming to the fore and being investigated," Booker said. 

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Booker, who praised Jackson during her confirmation hearing last week, said he had never before seen the kind of questioning GOP senators had for the judge.

"What we saw though this week was, to me, outrageous and beyond the pale and very different than what I've witnessed in my short time in the Senate seeing three different confirmation hearings and I think that what some of my colleagues did was just sad frankly," he said.

Booker made Jackson tear up during the hearing when he lauded her for being "so much more than your race and gender."

"I want to tell you when I look at you this is why I get emotional," Booker told Jackson. "You're so much more than your race and gender. You're a Christian, you're a mom. Your intellect."

"You have earned this spot, you are worthy," he continued. "You are a great American."

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President Joe Biden declared during a Democratic primary debate in February 2020 that he would nominate a black woman to the high court should a vacancy arise, and later reaffirmed his stance when Breyer announced in January his plans to retire at the end of the current term. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first black woman to serve on the bench.

During the hearings, Republican senators pressed Jackson on a number of different hot-button issues, including critical race theory, her support for expanding the Supreme Court and her decision to impose sentences in child pornography cases below the federal guidelines.

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