Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing should be about her and her qualifications for the highest Court in the country. And yet, the Republican party is pushing talking points geared toward feeding the base ahead of upcoming midterm elections.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the official GOP account tweeted a GIF with an image of Jackson and her initials KBJ being crossed out and replaced by the letters CRT for critical race theory. As Nneka D. Dennie noted on Twitter, the GOP keeps moving the needle with what it considers critical race theory aka CRT. Looking to score cheap points, the GOP equated a Black woman with liberal leanings as being the boogeyman Republicans claim is destroying America.
Continuing its ongoing disinformation campaign around CRT, tying a Black woman federal judge to the GOP’s distortion of the legal theory is made even more evident in a rapid response document, “Important Questions for KBJ.”
That document cites another claiming critical race theory is “heading to the Supreme Court” by Biden nominating Jackson. GOP misinformation is less about Jackson and more about sowing discord ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
Points in the GOP rapid response also attempt to paint the late professor Derrick Bell, an influential legal scholar, as a questionable figure to admire. At issue is a passing reference to Bell’s book, “Faces at the Bottom of the Well,” during a speech given at the University of Michigan Law School’s MLK Day Lecture on Black Women Leaders In the Civil Rights Movement Era and beyond.
Jackson referenced the book because of the striking image of the cover showing a person peering through bars in a jail cell and drew a connection to the condition and experience of Black women. Reasonable people can disagree with the book, but it is ridiculous to pretend that referencing it is controversial or disqualifying.
Again it’s not actually about Jackson but keeping the Republican base primed and ready to pounce on fabricated claims as an election strategy. A confirmation process that is televised and live-streamed provides a perfect place to distribute talking points that have been repeatedly refuted.
Also, something needs to be said about the continued attempt to demonize anyone for recognizing the late professor Derrick Bell. It’s profoundly ignorant and racist. And Black people in the GOP co-signing these attacks doesn’t change their racist nature.
People can disagree with professor Derrick Bell and his analysis and research of how race and racism have been integrated into policies and laws. But the smear against his legacy is unconscionable and intentional to rile up voters who fear no longer being in the majority.
While much was made about her citing professor Derrick Bell’s book in a prior speech, his wife Janet Dewart Bell’s book informed most of Jackson’s speech. Janet Dewar Bell dug into the often untold history of Black women in her book “African American Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: A Narrative Inquiry.”
Republican framing of CRT disregards the original intent of the legal doctrine and has become a stand-in for anything related to equity and justice. Groups like Heritage Action, a sister organization to the Heritage Foundation, have distributed materials to parents overgeneralizing CRT as everything from diversity and inclusion language to phrases like “centering.”
CRT is not the problem. Persisting issues of racism and discrimination and the way it has informed a legacy of decision-making and policies is the problem.
The GOP talking points document makes a series of claims and requests senators ask Jackson about issues that have nothing to do with her future tenure on the Supreme Court. For example, efforts to expand the Court are mentioned, but it has nothing to do with Supreme Court justices as the makeup of the Court is up to Congress.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Democratic members of Congress previously introduced legislation to add four seats to the Supreme Court. Rep. Hank Johnson has previously said having 13 justices would be consistent with the number of federal circuit courts of appeals. When the Court was changed to nine justices, there were only nine circuit
Beyond CRT, the GOP document also claimed Jackson attacked the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion people harassing people entering clinics likely to receive an abortion. Some of the references involve arguments Jackson made in legal briefs in litigation during her early years in private practice.
The GOP also claims that President Joe Biden, then a senator, discriminated against a Black woman judge rumored to be on former President George W. Bush’s shortlist for the Supreme Court. But Biden’s opposition to Judge Janice Rogers Brown followed the leadership and advocacy of several civil rights organizations concerned about Brown’s record.
Representing a coalition of more than 180 organizations, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote an open letter to senators urging them against confirming Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
“Not only does she show an inability to dispassionately review cases, but her opinions are based on her extremist ideology and ignore judicial precedent, even that set by the United States Supreme Court,” read the letter in part.
In one example, the letter noted that Brown dissented in a case involving the use of racial slurs in the workplace and an individual’s First Amendment rights.
“Her opinion also went so far as to suggest that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination, violates the First Amendment and is therefore unconstitutional,” the letter continued.