Ossoff questions give Supreme Court nominee Jackson a chance to tell more of her story

WASHINGTON — Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff’s questioning of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson stood in stark contrast to some of the combative interactions she had with Republican members.

Ossoff used his time to allow Jackson to explain her philosophy on aspects of the Constitution, such as searches and seizures, press freedoms and the role of public defenders. He also encouraged Jackson to share more of her personal story and the law enforcement and military background of members of her family, including two uncles and a brother who served as police officers.

“I understand the need for law enforcement, the importance of having people who are willing to do that important work, the importance of holding people accountable for their criminal behavior,” Jackson said. “I also, as a lawyer and a citizen, believe very strongly in our Constitution and the rights that make us free. And what that means to me is an understanding that although we need accountability — although there is crime — we also have a society that ensures that people who have been accused of criminal behavior are treated fairly.”

Jackson, if confirmed, would be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Although President Joe Biden pledged as a candidate to name a Black woman to the high court, it would have been much more difficult to do if Republicans had remained in the majority in the Senate. The election of Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s January 2021 runoffs gave Democrats the seats they needed to gain control of the chamber.

Ossoff, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, now has a key role in moving Jackson’s nomination to the floor. He and the other members of the committee spent the past two days asking Jackson questions about her philosophy and worldview. Warnock is not a member of the committee, but he attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Prompted by Ossoff to talk about the rights of the accused to a public defender, a job Jackson once held, she said it was an important role in the judicial process.

“The work of a judge is to look at the facts and circumstances, hear the arguments of the parties, apply the law and make a fair determination,” she said. “And so having lawyers for criminal defendants aids in that process and benefits us all in our criminal justice system.”

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