Witnesses from the American Bar Association, as well as those called by Democrats and Republicans, were in the hot seat Thursday to testify about why Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson should or should not be nominated for Supreme Court Justice.
Jackson finished her portion of her confirmation hearings on Wednesday.
During Thursday's session, lawmakers interviewed 13 expert witnesses on Jackson's record and personal character.
Three of the witnesses who spoke Thursday — Claire Williams, D. Jean Veta and Joseph M. Drayton — are on the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. In addition, the committee's Democrats and Republicans have each called five people to testify.
Democrats have called:
- Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio
- Dean Risa Goluboff of the University of Virginia
- Wade Henderson, the president & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- Richard B. Rosenthal, an appellate lawyer and friend of Ketanji Brown Jackson
- Captain Frederick Thomas, the national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Republicans have called:
- Steve Marshall, Alabama attorney general
- Jennifer Mascott, a law professor at George Mason University
- Eleanor McCullen
- Keisha Russell of First Liberty
- Alessandra Serano of Operation Underground Railroad
Some of those called are mentors, friends and colleagues of Jackson. Others are legal experts who provided their opinion on her past legal rulings.
On Thursday morning, Rep. Beatty gave a strong recommendation for Jackson, saying "Judge Jackson will be a Judge who serves all of America, and all of America can be proud of her."
"Let's change America and confirm her with a bipartisan vote," Beatty continued.
Risa Goluboff testified to Jackson's qualities on a personal level, saying Judge Jackson, “has always been as interested in hearing the views of others as in sharing her own.”
An anti-abortion activist, Eleanor McCullen was called on by Republicans.
McCullen spoke not only about her own personal efforts to end abortion but also about how she was "deeply saddened" by an amicus brief that Judge Jackson filed in support of a clinic buffer zone law.
Other Republicans focused on Jackson's past decisions involving crime.
Thursday's session comes after back-to-back marathon days of questioning from committee members. Throughout the hearings, Jackson has remained calm and collected.
Wednesday's most contentious line of questioning came from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. He was critical of Jackson's sentencing in child porn cases.
"If you're on the internet trolling for images of children and sexual exploitation. So, so you don't think that's a bad thing, I think that's a horrible thing," Graham said as he continually cut off Jackson as she attempted to explain how she sentences people.
Graham previously supported Jackson on the court of appeals but said the Supreme Court is a "different game."
While Republican committee members have been critical of Jackson's sentencing record for those convicted of child pornography crimes, several media outlets, including The Associated Press, have shot down claims that Jackson's child pornography sentences were lighter than other judges.
Earlier in the day, Jackson talked about what she believes are the most important defenses to protect against abuse from the executive branch of government.
"The separation of powers is crucial to liberty," she said. "It is what our country is founded on and it's important, as consistent with my judicial methodology, for each branch to operate within their own sphere. That means for me that judges can't make law, judges shouldn't be policymakers. That's a part of our constitutional design, and it prevents our government from being too powerful and encroaching on individual liberty."
In staying with precedent, Jackson has also repeatedly chosen not to answer questions regarding specific policies, including "court-packing" and her personal views on abortion. She has said, however, that she believes that landmark abortion cases like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are "settled law."
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Jackson's nomination on April 4.