Watch Live: Ketanji Jackson, elected by the Supreme Court, stands before the Senate committee

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s historic nominee for the Supreme Court, will appear before an evenly divided Senate committee this week, where she is likely to be sharply questioned by Republicans about her past work as a public defender.

As the first black woman to be nominated for the High Court, Jackson has the solid support of Democrats, which they can confirm without GOP support thanks to a landmark vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the Senate.

However, this week could prove to be an uncomfortable ordeal for the candidate, as the Judiciary Committee has several Republicans with presidential aspirations — giving them an excellent opportunity to appeal to GOP voters.

“I think both parties would like to lower the temperature of the Supreme Court hearings, but there are several arsonists on the Republican side who probably won’t go along with it,” said Sarah Binder, a Brookings Institution researcher who tracks judge nominations .

That includes Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who said last week he’d found an “alarming pattern” in which Jackson advocated lighter sentences for those convicted of possession of child pornography. The appropriate sentence for such accused was much debated, and the matter came before the US Criminal Commission, where Jackson served for several years.

A White House spokesman described Hawley’s indictment as an example of “toxic… misinformation.”

She has practiced law continuously since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1996. She has worked for three judges, including on the Supreme Court, briefly worked in four law firms, served eight years as a US District Judge and one year as a US Circuit Court Judge for the DC Circuit.

Senator John Kennedy, left, speaks with Ketanji Brown Jackson, right, in a hallway

Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks with Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

But the most cited aspect of her legal career is the two years she spent in the 2005 office of the federal public defender in Washington, beginning with the 6th riot last year.

Progressives say her time there means she would bring a different perspective to the Supreme Court. Since Judge Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991, the court has not had a judge representing criminal defendants.

But Republicans pointed to the same service as evidence that she may be overly sympathetic to criminals.

“Liberals say that Judge Jackson’s service as a criminal defense attorney and then on the US Sentencing Commission gives her special empathy for convicted criminals,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week. “I think that means prosecutors and innocent crime victims start every trial at a disadvantage.”

Last year, during her appeals court hearing, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned her about the representation of several detainees being held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked if she was concerned about “getting more violent criminals back onto the streets.”

You’ll likely bring up these questions again this week.

AJ Kramer, who has headed the Washington public defender’s office for 30 years, said he assigned the cases to the attorneys. He said he gave Jackson several of the Guantanamo cases because of their outstanding legal background.

“When I looked at her resume, I thought she should interview me and not me,” he said.

The Bush administration had insisted that prisoners being held at Guantanamo had no rights, but the Supreme Court disagreed, saying they could appeal to federal judges. But even so, the law was unclear and in flux.

On Monday, the 22 senators on the Judiciary Committee will take turns making opening statements and then introducing Jackson to make their remarks.

The committee will then adjourn and begin questioning Tuesday morning and continue through Wednesday. Thursday will be devoted to the testimony of outside witnesses.

In recent years, Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominees have become extremely partisan. All of the committee’s Democrats opposed President Trump’s three candidates and at times left the room in protest.

Confirmed in October 2020, Judge Amy Coney Barrett became the first successful candidate in 150 years to win approval without a single opposition party vote.

The committee has not said when it will vote on Jackson’s nomination.

If it splits fully along partisan lines, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) can make a motion to send their nomination to the Senate. Watch Live: Ketanji Jackson, elected by the Supreme Court, stands before the Senate committee

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