Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) on Sunday criticized Republican senators’ questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings as “beyond the pale” but defended Democrats’ treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his infamously contentious confirmation hearings.
Booker’s comments came during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, after host Chuck Todd claimed that the hearings turned into something “circus-like” and that the confirmation process is “broken” and “partisan.” Noting that both parties play the blame game on why the hearings have become partisan, Todd asked Booker how to fix the “broken” process.
Booker replied that there is “a lot of frustration among Democrats, clearly, for what happened with Merrick Garland,” when Republicans refused to consider former President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Garland in 2016.
“I think that we’ve seen sort of the legitimacy of the court really suffer partly as a result of the tactics that we’ve seen going on in the Senate,” Booker said. However, he claimed it is not a “simple conclusion” that both parties are at fault for how contentious the hearings have become.
“There were extraordinary realities in the Kavanaugh hearings that I think demanded for that to be as contentious as it was and not just allowing it to go through without these extraordinary realities coming to the fore and being investigated,” he said.
Kavanaugh faced a tumultuous confirmation process in 2018 after Christine Blasey Ford claimed he had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied the claims.
“What we saw though this week was, to me, outrageous and beyond the pale and very different than what I’ve witnessed in my short time in the Senate seeing three different confirmation hearings and I think that what some of my colleagues did was just sad frankly,” he said.
Booker made Jackson tear up during the confirmation hearing last week when he used his time for questioning to give the judge a pep-talk of sorts.
“I want to tell you when I look at you this is why I get emotional,” Booker said to Jackson during the hearing. “You’re so much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian, you’re a mom. Your intellect.”
“You have earned this spot, you are worthy. You are a great American,” he added.
Booker said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he wanted to “reaffirm the truth” about Jackson after she faced “over the top” questioning from three Republicans before him. He also said there were several moments during the hearing that were “deflating” and “disappointing,” including when Senator Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) asked Jackson to provide a definition for the word “woman.”
Several other Republican senators, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, questioned Jackson on her sentencing record from her time as a federal district judge, noting a number of child-pornography cases where she imposed shorter sentences than the federal guidelines recommended. Hawley said Jackson’s record “endangers our children.”