Russell Shaw Biden's Supreme Court Pick

President Joe Biden announced on Feb. 25, 2022 that federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is his first nominee to the Supreme Court. President Joe Biden announced on Feb. 25, 2022 that federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is his first nominee to the Supreme Court./ White House

Something unusual happened last month at the session during which President Joe Biden introduced Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his choice for the Supreme Court. When her turn to speak came, she began by thanking not Biden but God.

These days nominees for high office in the nation’s capital don’t ordinarily declare themselves by speaking first of God. But Jackson made it a point to credit God at the start “for delivering me to this point in my professional career.” Speaking as prospectively the first black woman justice, she told the world that “one can only come this far by faith.”

It may be grasping at straws. But those unexpected words on what was a very special occasion for her offered at least a glimmer of hope that on the bench she might emerge as something rather different from the acolyte of abortion and LGBTQ rights that the liberal media have made her out to be. 

That said, I readily admit it may be wishful thinking. But we shall see.

Don’t expect much light on this subject from the four days of confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee that begin March 21. Following well established precedent set by other Supreme Court nominees, Jackson is expected to announce that she firmly supports Goodness, Truth, and Beauty and thinks the U.S. Constitution is just swell. Concerning specific questions she will face as a member of the Supreme Court she’ll stay mum.

Years back, Jackson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, author of the majority opinions in all the court’s major abortion cases of the last two decades. Aside from the most obvious differences--gender and race--the most significant difference between Breyer and Jackson is age. He is 83 and she is 51, which will make her the court’s second youngest member after Justice Amy Coney Barret, who is 50.

Breyer will formally retire when the court’s current term ends in late June, and Jackson, presumably confirmed by then, will immediately succeed him.  Barring the unexpected, it’s a good bet that once on the Supreme Court, she will remain there for the next quarter century or more.

As an associate justice she will be part of a three-woman liberal minority composed of herself, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. The six other justices, generally described as conservatives, are Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Barrett.

Jackson will be joining the court shortly after it announces its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The outcome in that closely watched case, involving a Mississippi law barring virtually all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, is widely expected either to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, or at least to permit meaningful state restrictions on the practice.    

Either way, the court will face a slew of new cases involving new state enactments. Anticipating a favorable outcome in Dobbs, prolife state legislatures have already adopted dozens of new laws setting limits on abortion and there are more to come if the Supreme Court does as expected. Challenges to those laws will keep Jackson and her colleagues occupied for years.

Casting grave doubt on the faint hope that the new justice might be anything less than totally pro-choice was the ecstatic reaction of abortion rights groups to her nomination  Typical of the comments was the statement from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which hailed her  “demonstrated record of defending” abortion rights. That includes co-authoring a brief supporting NARAL in a case that involved a Massachusetts law establishing a “buffer zone” around abortion clinics to keep pro-life protesters at bay.

Against this background, it’s reasonable to suppose that the prospects that Jackson will disappoint  the abortion lobby and embarrass Joe Biden lie somewhere between unlikely and impossible. And yet--mightn’t a person who thanks the Lord of Life for bringing her to the apex of her career have second thoughts about voting in favor of destroying unborn lives? 

Don’t count on it, but don’t count it out entirely.

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