New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker brings Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to tears during Supreme Court hearing

WASHINGTON — Sen. Cory Booker weathered a tense third day of hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday with a speech on racial progress that brought the nominee to tears and captured the attention of his colleagues.

Booker, a black Democrat from New Jersey, said he couldn’t hold back his emotion any longer at the way Jackson fared in the face of combative questioning about his handling of child pornography cases, his portrayal of accused terrorists and his opinions on anti-racism teaching in schools.

“You faced insults here that shocked me,” Booker said, speaking directly to Jackson, who is being nominated to become the first black woman to sit on the High Court.

“Nobody takes it away from me,” Booker continued, choking as he spoke. The Republicans will “accuse you of this and that. But don’t worry, sister. Don’t worry. God has you. And how do I know? Because you’re here, and I know why you’re sit in that seat.”

Jackson, who sat silently with her hands clasped, unlocked her fingers to grab a handkerchief and wiped away the tears that were streaming down her cheeks. It was the first time in nearly two dozen hours of questioning senators that she had shown such emotion.

Since Jackson’s hearings began on Monday, Democratic and Republican senators have hailed the nominee’s historic nomination, praised her pedigree and noted her pleasant disposition and empathetic approach to the law.

But Booker used his remarks to ground Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court in significance beyond mere diversity. For Jackson to sit on the panel, he said, she had to overcome systemic barriers and outdo herself on every level. Only then could she have the chance to shatter one of the last racial ceilings of American democracy.

“I want to tell you, when I look at you, that’s why I get emotional,” Booker said. “I’m sorry, you’re a person who is so much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian. You’re a mom. It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. I see my ancestors and yours.”

He added: “You have earned this spot. You are worth it. You are a great American.”

After a busy day of partisanship, every Republican in the room gave Booker their full attention. Except for a few sniffles, the room was completely silent for the duration of his remarks.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., stepped down immediately after Booker’s remarks for a short recess. Jackson quickly left the room, accompanied by her husband.

During recess, a line of people, including Jackson’s father, approached Booker and hugged him, with several wiping away tears.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., who is white, later called Booker’s speech “an epic Senate moment and also a moral reset after some truly toxic and cynical behavior that has gone to the absolute bottom of what the Senate did in the dark times past.”

When the hearing resumed, a question from Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, about being an inspiration to young Americans stirred more emotion in Jackson. She said her remarks and question were “very moving”.

Jackson choked up as she recounted the story of walking around Harvard University feeling like she didn’t belong, when another black woman she didn’t know passed by and seemed to understand what she was doing. she felt. “Persevere,” she said, the woman told her.

“I hope to inspire people to try to go down this path, because I love this country, because I love the law, because I think it’s important that we all invest in our future,” said Jackson. “And young people are the future.”


Morrison reported from New York. Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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