Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson returned to the Senate for a third day of hearings Wednesday as Republicans try to paint her as soft on crime and Democrats herald the historic nature of her nomination to become the first Black woman on the high court.
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina continued GOP questioning of Jackson's record in sentencing convicted criminals to prison time, but in a less confrontational way.
"It seems as though you’re a very kind person, and that there’s at least a level of empathy that enters into your treatment of a defendant that some could view as maybe beyond what some of us would be comfortable with, with respect to administering justice," Tillis said. He also acknowledged that Jackson probably would be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
In Tuesday's marathon hearing, Republicans aggressively questioned her on the sentences she has handed down to sex offenders in her nine years as a federal judge, her advocacy on behalf of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, her thoughts on critical race theory and even her religious views. At one point, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas read from children's books that he said are taught at her teenage daughter's school.
Several GOP senators grilled Jackson on her child pornography sentences, arguing they were lighter than federal guidelines recommend. She said she based the sentences on many factors, not just the guidelines, and said some of the cases had given her nightmares.
Jackson told the committee that her brother and two uncles served as police officers, and that "crime and the effect on the community, and the need for law enforcement — those are not abstract concepts or political slogans to me."
Wednesday's hearing is the second day of questioning, and the third day of hearings, after Jackson and the 22 members of the panel gave opening statements on Monday. On Thursday, the committee will hear from legal experts before an eventual vote to move her nomination to the Senate floor.
Barring unexpected developments, Democrats who control the Senate by the slimmest of margins hope to wrap up Jackson’s confirmation before Easter, though Breyer is not leaving until the current session ends this summer.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.