In a better world, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s 12-minute introductory speech to the Senate Judiciary Committee would be a moment worthy of celebration.
In this brief but elegant summary of his life, career and judicial philosophy, Jackson has provided us with an optimistic perspective of the promise of our nation, the power of faith and family, and the rewards of hard work and of public service.
“My life has been blessed beyond measure. The first of my many blessings is that I was born into this great nation,” she said.
The Supreme Court nominee went on to detail the love and dedication her mother and father – born into a legally segregated society – showed her and her brother, and their own faith that America could do match his ideals to his actions.
“My parents taught me that unlike the many obstacles they faced growing up, my path was clearer, so that if I worked hard and believed in myself, in America I could do anything. or be whatever I wanted to be,” she said.
She celebrated her parents’ nearly 54-year marriage just as she celebrated her own 25-year marriage and the roots and fruits of love and family that flowed from those partnerships.
She simply but clearly described a tempered judicial philosophy based on neutrality and restraint, tied to the facts of the cases before her and the text of the law.
We hope and expect her to sit on the Supreme Court according to her own description of that philosophy, although we’re pretty sure we won’t agree with some of her views.
We also know that the confirmation of his nomination will once again present us with the partisan divide that now defines Congress.
It is sad. As we have said before, presidents deserve wide latitude from the Senate in approving qualified candidates.
The fault is not simply with the Republicans who will vote against Jackson, nor with the Democrats who fought, often bitterly and sometimes unfairly, against the Republican candidates.
Rather, blame is assigned to a Congress that over generations has failed to legislate difficult issues before the nation and to members of the judiciary who have, over time, embraced greater decision-making power through overbroad interpretations of the law.
These political and legal failures have left us with a system of government where the highest court in the land decides some of our most pressing issues that would be more properly decided by the elected representatives of the people.
That Judge Jackson is qualified by any serious standard of Supreme Court qualification is beyond doubt. That his personal story is offered to us as a source of inspiration for all Americans is something we should accept.
That she won’t enjoy anything close to unanimous approval is assured.
And it speaks to something deeply broken that as a nation we need to fix.