U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spoke on the Senate floor on Tuesday night about her opposition to President Biden’s nominee to serve on the United States Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Senator Ernst’s remarks are below:
“In the last two weeks, we’ve heard a lot about…and from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
“I’d like to start off by congratulating Judge Jackson and her family on her nomination.
“I had a wonderful meeting with the Judge earlier this week.
“She is a highly qualified attorney.
“I’d also like to congratulate her for making it through the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
“The hearing process can be grueling process, but it is extremely important.
“Judge Jackson demonstrated grace under pressure.
“However, I have concerns about Judge Jackson’s nomination and will not be supporting her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
“Perhaps my greatest issue with Judge Jackson is her lack of an adherence to a judicial philosophy.
“I have been very clear with each Supreme Court nominee since I took office that I am looking to support a nominee that prescribes to originalism.
“Judge Jackson explained during the Senate Judiciary hearing that she abides by a judicial ‘methodology,’ instead of a philosophy. This means, according to her, that she begins at a neutral position to understand the facts and to interpret the law, receives all appropriate inputs, and then interprets the law.
“While I would hope that all judges, no matter which court they sit on, approach their rulings from a neutral position and evaluate all applicable court filings, Judge Jackson’s methodology says nothing about the way she understands and subsequently interprets the law.
“In my mind, there are three areas of the law a judge must evaluate—the meaning of the Constitution, statutes, and case precedents.
“Different theories of interpretation sometimes lead to different answers about the meaning of each of these different areas, which is why it is vitally important to know what a Supreme Court nominee’s philosophy is.
“For example, Justice Breyer, whom Judge Jackson clerked for and is nominated to replace on the Court, often described his own judicial philosophy as pragmatic. As a result, Justice Breyer balances the interests and values surrounding a case.
“And while I don’t agree with Justice Breyer’s method of interpretation, Judge Jackson won’t even commit to abiding by this judicial philosophy. And this is very troubling.
“If a justice’s legal interpretation has no philosophical grounding, that provides flexibility for a justice to bend their thinking to achieve a desired outcome, instead of following a structured analysis. We have enough politicians in the legislative branch. We don’t need any in the courts, especially the Supreme Court.
“My concerns with Judge Jackson’s apparent lack of a judicial philosophy is magnified by her other progressive and activist choices.
“Case in point, her lax stance on the sentencing of pedophiles.
“The laws she applied simply hold those who distribute child pornography accountable, considering how often these offenders recidivate.
“Instead, Judge Jackson went out of her way to articulate her discomfort with imposing sentences based upon, in her words, “outdated laws” because the nature of child pornography distribution has changed.
“For the children depicted in these heinous images, it doesn’t matter how they are distributed.
“Judge Jackson afforded leniency to offenders, and previewed for all of us how she applies outdated laws to modern problems.
“Going further, when asked if she supports expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson refused to reject that position.
“Perhaps echoing this thought process, last week Judge Jackson commented that she would be ‘thrilled to be one of however many’ justices. This tells me everything I need to know.
“In addition, Judge Jackson’s unverified stance on life issues gives me great pause.
“During several exchanges at the hearing, Judge Jackson refused to acknowledge when the life of an unborn child begins.
“As a result, the only information I have to evaluate in her previous decision supporting a Massachusetts law that created a ‘buffer zone’ preventing pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching expectant mothers outside of abortion clinics.
“Without an articulated process on how the Judge would approach a life question in combination with this troubling decision, I have no reassurance that the Judge will not take an activist stance.
“I cannot and will not accept this answer.
“Finally, I’m deeply concerned at Judge Jackson’s response when asked to define a woman.
“The Judge responded that she’s not a biologist.
“Well folks, I’m not a biologist either, but it seems pretty common sense to me.
“I can tell you the voters of Iowa didn’t have to think about the answer to this question when they elected me as the first woman to represent Iowa in the United States Senate.
“I can tell you the Taliban didn’t have to think about the answer to this question when they closed the doors of schools to female students two weeks ago.
“And I can tell you President Biden didn’t have to think about the answer to this question when he nominated Judge Jackson as the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
“While I’m grateful Judge Jackson believes science is the basis for determining a woman, I’m deeply concerned that a fellow woman, who is set to define the contours of laws that are specific to women, has to even think about an answer to that question.
“So, Mr. President, Judge Jackson’s language, or lack thereof, speaks volumes for me and I cannot support her nomination for a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court.”