OP-ED: Partisanship Does Not Belong in Supreme Court Selection

Sara Harris, Staff Reporter, Sophomore

On February 25, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson to become 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, after Judge Stephen Briar stepped down. On April 7, a bipartisan group of senators confirmed Judge Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. This date will no doubt be remembered in history, for it was then that the first Black woman was seated on the Supreme Court. Yet, so many were against the appointment of Judge Jackson. In my opinion, the objections to Judge Jackson were due simply to the party polarization within the Judicial branch, initially built to be above the political agendas we see plague our court.

I first noticed the corruption within the Supreme Court during the latter half of Barack Obama’s presidency. Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court Judge, affiliated with the Republican party, had died, leaving President Obama responsible for nominating a new Justice. Mitch McConnell, then Senate Majority Leader, denied every nominee until the task ultimately was passed on to the next president, Donald Trump. McConnell did this not because of inadequate candidates presented by President Obama, but because he did not wish for a Democratic judge to sit on the Supreme Court.

The delay in appointments during the Obama presidency, and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, resulted in the appointment of two conservative supreme court justices during Trump’s presidency. The transition was quick, despite accusations facing Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault and the resurfacing of a photo of Kavanaugh participating in “black-face.” Additionally, there were strong objections to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, yet her confirmation process was swift.

It is here that you can witness what this court and these justices have become: pawns in furthering partisan agendas.

The prolific hurdles the Biden administration has faced in their pursuit of Judge Jackson’s appointment can be illustrated by the hours of verbal abuse she met by Republican Senators. It is customary for a nominee to be questioned; however, her treatment had nothing to do with ensuring qualification but was a power struggle. Her record as a public defender was attacked, and as a judge on her sentencing. Senator Tom Cotton suggested she would have defended Nazis.

“The Last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the case against the Nazis,” he said on Tuesday, April 5, as the senate debater nomination, referring to the Justice Robert H. Jackson. The latter was chief counsel in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. “This Judge Jackson might have gone there to defend them.”

Senator Josh Hawley claimed that Judge Jackson had a history of “letting porn offenders off the hook” on a Twitter thread previewing his line of questioning during hearings.

When Amy Coney Barrett was nominated and ultimately confirmed during Trump’s presidency, she failed to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment yet, was ushered into a lifetime appointment, all the same ,without any thought. Why may you ask? Party bias. Because she wasn’t meant to be the best candidate, but one easily manipulated by the Republican party.

Many argued Judge Jackson was ill-qualified, claiming it was a strategic move by President Biden and the democrats to gain women and African American voters. Yes, there was most likely some form of intent; however, that does not forsake Kentaji Brown Jackson and her accomplishments as an individual. She attended Harvard for undergraduate and law school and served as a district judge for the United States District Court of the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021. Judge Barrat was a professor before her appointment, with limited court experience; however, her competency rarely came into question.

The actions of the Republican party aren’t unnoticed, and I fear for our future if the well-being of American citizens isn’t being considered during these essential trials. I fear that we have succumbed to becoming pawns ourselves in a game of political power and Republican autonomy. So good luck Judge Jackson, I hope you can escape this vicious cycle, but I suspect not.