Have Senate Republicans Determined That Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Poses Less of a Threat Than Justice Leondra Kruger?

KBJ's confirmation hearing was surprisingly uneventful, and two SJC Republicans voted for her.


In April, I predicted that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearing would be a dress rehearsal for a potential Supreme Court nomination. And, I expected the Republican Senators to go after her very hard. I told Bloomberg:

"I almost feel bad for her because she's going to be destroyed," said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. She's well equipped to handle that criticism, he said. "But Republicans are going to try to destroy her, to tarnish her so she won't get picked for the Supreme Court."

But that didn't happen at all. Not even close. Her hearing was surprisingly uneventful. She received very few hostile questions. And for the most part, Senate Republicans went easy on her.

I told USA Today:

"I was very surprised how easy the senators went," said Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston and a conservative legal blogger. "It's possible the Republicans decided she would be confirmed no matter what and they would keep their powder dry for a future SCOTUS confirmation … when the GOP has a Senate majority."

Today, Brown Jackson was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 13-9 vote. Two Republicans voted in her favor: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). At this point, her confirmation is a certainty.

That process was far too painless. Contrast this glide path to how awfully Senate Democrats treated Miguel Estrada, also was nominated to the D.C. Circuit. The prospect of a Republican President putting the first Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court was too much for progressives to bear bear. Ditto for Janice Rogers Brown. But here, Republicans did nothing to stop another black female nominee for the same court.

What's going on? Perhaps the Republicans realized Brown Jackson's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit is a fait accompli, so there was no point fighting it. And, the Republicans are keeping their powder dry for a SCOTUS nomination. Mike Davis suggested this answer:

Davis, a former aide to Grassley, rejected the idea that a vote for Jackson now locks any Republican into a vote for  Jackson in the future.

"Just because she's qualified for the D.C. Circuit," he said, "doesn't automatically make her qualified for the Supreme Court."

There is another possibility. Senate Republicans may have determined that a Justice Brown Jackson is less of a threat than a Justice Leondra Kruger. And, making KBJ's appointment as smooth as possible may nudge President Biden to pick her over Kruger. In other words, the Republicans would mount a unified front to Kruger, but would let Brown Jackson through with less drama. This easy confirmation process cannot have been lost on Biden and his team. The White House will no doubt measure that factor when deciding between the top two nominees–especially in an evenly-divided Senate.

Meanwhile, we still have no Solicitor General nominee. There is some weird internecine intersectional drama going on. And we are stuck with an Acting Solicitor General. When does Vacancy Reform Act Twitter start to heat up?

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  1. Or perhaps some Republicans in the Senate, unimpressive moral specimens though they might be, possess the modicum of principle, conscientiousness, and sense of duty that fourth-rate hacks at fifth-tier law schools seem to have trouble mustering up.

  2. Another Ivy indoctrinated slimeball, traitor to the nation, a waking nightmare for the ordinary person, pro-criminal, pro-illegales, a foam at the mouth Democrat partisan hit person, Trump hating big government traitor to the country. On the arrest list upon confirmation.

    Vicious, Democrat style attacks on nominees are a waste of time. They failed the Democrats, just made everyone hate the Democrats. These Swamp creatures are fungible anyway. All end up the same after a time in DC. The natural experiment will be validated by the decisions of Justice Barrett starting in 2024, after 2 years in Washington. She will just be another Kennedy style, conservative lawyer scumbag.

    1. Having a bad day, Behar?

      1. Name a successful jurisdiction led by a black woman in the past 700 years. Define success any way you want, except for rent seeking.

  3. Maybe the GOP realizes all these leftists are identical disasters and there is little they can do right now.

    Confirmation to a future vacancy depends on the votes at that time.

    1. “there is little they can do right now”

      Not true.

      They can continue to lose the culture war. They can whine about it. They can try to become better people (ditching the bigotry, backwardness, old-timey superstition). They can be replaced by their betters as America continues to improve against their wishes.

  4. Is this what kids today call “posting their Ls online”?

  5. “And we are stuck with an Acting Solicitor General.”

    Wait, this bothers you now?

    Sorry, I forgot for a moment you still call yourself a Republican after 1.6, so of course this is how you act.

  6. “This easy confirmation process cannot have been lost on Biden and his team. The White House will no doubt measure that factor when deciding between the top two nominees–especially in an evenly-divided Senate.”

    Of course it is lost on Biden’s team. Biden is probably unawares of what is going on, so everything is lost on him (why he has been instructed not to answer questions). They may be emboldened to push for even further left as a prelude to packing the court.

    1. “Biden is probably unawares ”

      Well, yeah, but not the leftist lawyers who surround him.

  7. Blackman speculates that the GOP Senators may have gone easy on Jackson because they regard her as “less of a threat” than Justice Kruger. Is there a reason that they would regard Justice Kruger as a threat? If so, what is it? Her career doesn’t seem threatening: She clerked for Justice Stevens at SCOTUS, was hired by the Bush administration to work in the Solicitor General’s office, and stayed there during the Obama administration until she was appointed to the California Supreme Court. None of her decisions have been particularly controversial; Wikipedia says she’s considered an “incrementalist” and is viewed as a swing vote. Why does any of this make her a threat? Or does Blackman think that anyone from a blue state like California must necessarily be a leftist ideologue?

  8. Because there is no threat like a black woman threat. You guys are as emasculated as Ted Cruz and John Noonan today. Weak.

  9. Janice Rogers Brown? Really?

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