OPINION: Conservatives always want qualified Black candidates to produce their papers and prove their worth and legitimacy. They really need to stop playing.
There is a saying that when you’re Black, you must work twice as hard to get half the credit. This is most certainly true, and the predictable yet outrageous white conservative attacks on Joe Biden’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, is a case in point. Judge Brown Jackson is more qualified than most of the white men who have served on the Supreme Court.
Tucker Carlson doesn’t think Brown Jackson is intelligent enough for a lifetime appointment on the high court. The white nationalist Fox News host took a break from caping for Eastern European dictators and Capitol insurrectionists to ask for Judge Brown Jackson’s LSAT scores. Questioning her qualifications, Carlson has insulted her and Black America in the process. And that’s the point.
“So is Ketanji Brown Jackson, a name that even Joe Biden has trouble pronouncing, one of the top legal minds in the entire country? We certainly hope so, it’s Biden’s right, appointing her is one of his gravest constitutional duties. So it might be time for Joe Biden to let us know what Ketanji Brown Jackson’s LSAT score was,” Carlson said.
“Wonder how she did on the LSATs, why won’t he tell us that? That would settle the question conclusively as to whether she is a once in a generational legal talent, the next learned hand. It would seem like Americans in a democracy have a right to know that and much more before giving her a lifetime appointment but we did not hear that,” he added.
While Tucker seems to have a lot of questions about Judge Brown Jackson, he showed absolutely no concern for Trump’s picks for the court—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. He did not demand to review their test scores, and we must ask what those three judges had in common.
“Of course he didn’t. They’re all white” tweeted @ChrisCJackson.
“These same people don’t care that Amy Coney Barrett was the least experienced SCOTUS justice in 30 years,” tweeted @Fly_Sistah. “They weren’t outraged by her confirmation. She didn’t know basic first amendment protections but is labeled as brilliant.”
During her confirmation hearing, Barrett, who has almost no experience practicing law, did not know that the right to protest is one of the five freedoms under the First Amendment. And yet she was placed on the fast track to confirmation, allowing the handmaid of the court to assist in the dismantling of civil rights, abortion rights and so much more.
And while Justice Kavanaugh had allegations of sexual assault against him—and the man-made a fool of himself at his confirmation hearing when he proclaimed his love of beer—he nonetheless found his way on the highest court in the land despite glaring disqualifying evidence.
Conservatives will claim that a Black woman should not be on the court because of the color of her skin, but the content of her character—on a court where several sitting justices and many past justices have displayed poor character.
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) on March 02, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is meeting with Senate leaders on Capitol Hill ahead of her confirmation hearings (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Qasim Rashid, a former Congressional candidate in Virginia, made the case on TikTok that “Judge Jackson is extremely qualified. But dozens of justices before her weren’t. Here’s the history most don’t know.” Out of 115 Supreme Court justices in U.S. history, Rashid noted, 40 had no prior judicial experience, 18 attended some law school but never received a law degree, and 47 received legal education without attending law school.
And let’s not forget the Supreme Court justice who was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Judge Brown Jackson’s record—who would be the first Black woman and first federal public defender to join the court—screams nothing less than excellence. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School—where she was editor of the Harvard Law Review—Brown Jackson clerked for three judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer, the jurist she would replace, and was an attorney for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. And her experience as a defender reflects efforts by the Biden administration to fill the courts with public service-oriented judges, not only corporate lawyers and prosecutors. In 2013, President Barack Obama nominated her for the U.S. District Court in D.C., where she served until last year when President Biden selected Brown Jackson for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
If confirmed, Justice Brown Jackson will join the U.S. Supreme Court at a critical time for the court and for the country. Civil rights, abortion rights, voting rights, environmental protection and other critical issues are on the chopping block under a hard-right court supermajority out of step with the majority of America.
And that supermajority is corrupt, with allegations of dark money controlling the court, conservative justices appearing with politicians and behaving like partisan Republican Party hacks, one justice singling out a specific journalist for public criticism, and allegations that Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, supported the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and has an undue influence on her husband’s job.
While a Black woman would not change the balance of power on the Supreme Court, she would have a long time to leave her mark and become a positive influence on an unpopular institution. Before Biden picked a replacement for Breyer, he announced he would select a Black woman, which led to white reactionaries attacking an unknown and unannounced Black woman as an unqualified diversity hire.
Before Brown Jackson was the nominee, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said she would be a beneficiary of affirmative action. “The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very same time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota,” he said of the diversity and inclusion policy the court is expected to destroy.
White nationalists believe in the inherent genetic inferiority of Black people, and we should not waste our time engaging them. Black women such as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have proven their excellence, and yet, when they surpass the competition and lead, they are accused of having things they don’t deserve, things they have stolen from others.
Tucker Carlson asking Judge Brown Jackson for her LSAT scores is like Donald Trump asking Barack Obama for his grades and birth certificate, or that Newsweek op-ed that questioned Kamala Harris’ citizenship. They always want qualified Black candidates to produce their papers and prove their worth and legitimacy, and they really need to stop playing.
David A. Love is a journalist and commentator who writes investigative stories and op-eds on a variety of issues, including politics, social justice, human rights, race, criminal justice and inequality. Love is also an instructor at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, where he trains students in a social justice journalism lab. In addition to his journalism career, Love has worked as an advocate and leader in the nonprofit sector, served as a legislative aide, and as a law clerk to two federal judges. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also completed the Joint Programme in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. His portfolio website is davidalove.com.
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