As Tuesday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing dragged into the evening hours, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) raised a simple question about when constitutional protections for life — or even just life itself — begins.
“When does life begin, in your opinion,” Senator Kennedy asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for starters.
“Senator… um… I don’t… know,” Judge Jackson replied, followed by an uneasy, awkward laugh.
“Do you have a belief?” Kennedy pressed.
“I have, um, personal religious and otherwise beliefs that have nothing to do with the law in terms of when life begins,” Jackson responded.
“Do you have a personal belief though about when life begins?” Kennedy probed.
“I have a religious view that I set aside when I am ruling on cases,” Jackson evaded again.
Senator Kennedy pushed further on the point, asking Judge Jackson an important follow-up, “When does equal protection of the laws attach to a human being?”
“Well Senator, um… I believe that the Supreme Court… um… actually I, I actually don’t know the answer to that question — I’m sorry — I don’t,” Judge Jackson responded, again with an ill-timed grin on her face as her initially confident answer turned to another know-nothing response.
How Senate Judiciary Democrats and Judge Jackson’s “sherpa” — former Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) — apparently failed to prepare her to answer questions relating to the debate over life displays either arrogance that Jackson’s answers don’t matter to the outcome of the confirmation vote or ignorance that such questions might arise.
With the Supreme Court set to rule in the near future on one of the most significant challenges to Roe v. Wade in a generation and the issue of life being a long-running priority for Republicans in the Senate, it is absurd to think Judge Jackson’s team would assume questions on the topic wouldn’t arrive. Yet, it doesn’t seem Jackson has given the issue much thought.