Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court Confirmation Makes History

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For Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman elected to the Senate, much of what Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson experienced during her Supreme Court confirmation trial felt all too familiar.

“There’s a word, and it’s called misogynoir,” she tells cafemadrid. “And that word describes the double whammy faced by women of color: You’re gender vulnerable and you’re race vulnerable.”

Moseley Braun, who previously served on the Judiciary Committee, emphasizes that Jackson is bringing a valuable new perspective to the court that is simply missing at the moment. During her time in the Senate — which currently has no black female legislators — Moseley Braun experienced many of the same gaps.

“It’s a matter of people in their ignorance not recognizing racism when they see it, and not recognizing misogyny when they see it,” she said.

Jackson — who was a federal court judge, appellate court judge and public defender — made history when she was confirmed in the Supreme Court on Thursday. The Senate voted 53-47 for her nomination, making Jackson the first black woman to become a Supreme Court justice.

Moseley Braun sat down with cafemadrid to discuss the significance of this moment and the need for greater representation in the federal bench and in Congress.

This interview has been edited and abbreviated for clarity.

Li Zhou

How would you describe the significance of Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court?

Carol Moseley Braun

I’m excited because the fact is we’ve never had a [Black woman] in the Supreme Court, as you know, in all those years since 1789. And so she is the first of over a hundred Supreme Court justices. She is breaking new ground.

And it’s very important, because honestly, the reason I ran for Senate was because Thurgood Marshall and the Warren Court had changed the course of my life. They abolished segregation so that I could get a decent education and not have to sit in the back of the bus. I was not refused because of my color. And so, you know, [the Supreme Court] can make a huge difference in the way this country develops. And so her position and her perspective and her life experiences will give the Supreme Court a lot of new information that they don’t have right now. And it becomes very, very important and significant.

I don’t think she will hold back from influencing her other colleagues in court.

Li Zhou

Can you talk about the pressure of being “the first,” as someone who was the first black woman elected to the Senate?

Carol Moseley Braun

The fact is, when you’re the first, you get special charges, and people expect you to not only excel, but do it in a way that suits all of their different cultural expectations.

That is very difficult. But if you followed her through the hearings, she has such grace and such confidence and such diplomacy. She really is a role model. I mean, I sat there and looked at her and was impressed because I honestly would have punched some of those guys. I have a much shorter fuse than she does. To sit there and be calm and be judicial while they ask, I mean, ridiculous questions. And they were really mean to her – and this is not new.

This started with Robert Bork, honestly. And from then on it’s a matter of “gotcha”. And a matter of, you know, treating nominees like they’re less than human. And the fact that the Republicans took the bait and did that is just reprehensible to me.

Li Zhou

What was your general reaction to the way lawmakers treated Jackson during the hearings?

Carol Moseley Braun

To suggest that she was somehow less than qualified, less than capable, when, you know, most of them couldn’t even shine your boots. But the fact is, she is eminently qualified. Everyone recognizes that. And they have no place to go in terms of the qualifying game.

But again, that harks back to a real antiquated racism that makes black people less intelligent and less capable and less competent than anyone else. And so they tried to go there, but it didn’t work. It was not in the harsh light of reality and its track record. She has a great record that goes back years. And she’s ruled over so many different iterations of the different questions our country faces, that they couldn’t do anything with her.

Li Zhou

What did you think of the misleading questions people were asking, suggesting that Jackson was soft on crime, unusually lax on convictions for child porn, and on critical race theory?

Carol Moseley Braun

Again, it’s another reminder of trying to play the race card. That’s what was going on.

What amazes me is that more people haven’t mentioned it for what it was. It’s just plain racism.

Honestly, the whole “soft on crime” stuff. It’s like, why would they soften the Democrats on crime? It’s the way we should be – I think because she’s black, she’s softer on crime and not patriotic. Why would you go there?

That’s one of the older, racist tropes that black people have had to deal with, the assumption that somehow there’s crime in our community that doesn’t exist anywhere else, which is insane and insane. refuted by the facts

Li Zhou

How was Jackson’s confirmation hearing compared to others you attended when you were on the Judiciary Committee?

Carol Moseley Braun

Well, you know, it was much harder. They didn’t come after Ruth Bader Ginsburg that way, or Stephen Breyer that way. Again, being black and a black woman, they were able to use the most stale, outdated, racist tropes to try and trip her up. And that’s what they tried to do. I don’t think it worked.

There is a word, and the word is called misogynoir. And that word describes the double whammy that women of color face: you’re vulnerable when it comes to gender, and you’re vulnerable when it comes to race. And when you put those two together, it can be a very poisonous trap. And she was able to navigate all the ins and outs in a way that left her unscathed. And so she made me very, very proud to watch her.

Li Zhou

When it comes to legislation, Democrats have struggled to make things like voting rights and police reform a reality. What message do you see Judge Jackson’s nomination sending to black voters about the Democratic Party?

Carol Moseley Braun

Well, I think it’s a very positive message.

This was one of the problems, at least in the black female community, that I heard, more than anything, you know, [Barack Obama] did not nominate a black woman.

Joe Biden may have redeemed the Democratic Party with this nomination because he showed he is not afraid to take on the right wing and the Donald Trump party.

Li Zhou

What perspectives are missing in the Senate, which currently has no black female legislators?

Carol Moseley Braun

The whole idea of ​​a democracy is that you bring together different perspectives, that it is a government of the people, of the people. And if you don’t have black people in these legislative bodies, in the Supreme Court, you’re missing the perspective and the life experiences of a certain group of Americans, people who have been through it with this country.

I just called the World War I Commission, trying to build a memorial to the Doughboys. We had 350,000 black soldiers fighting to make the world safe for democracy. And when they got home, they were lynched. So the point is that black people have contributed in every way to this country and should have a voice in making decisions about its direction.

The lack of black women in the Senate means that those perspectives are lacking in decision-making, policy and debate. When I think back, I mean, the Confederate flag had this renewable patent that passed on its own until I got to the Senate. And when I got there, I said, “Oh guys, you can’t do this. This is insulting. And this is why.” It turned out that I won and beat the patent on the Confederate flag, on something that no one had noticed before, and that’s the value.

It’s not about people actively trying to be racist. It’s a matter of people in their ignorance, not recognizing racism when they see it, not recognizing misogyny when they see it.

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