Last Thursday, another milestone was reached by the United States. Ketanaji Brown Jackson, a black woman was confirmed by the US Senate as the next Supreme Court Justice of the United States. It is a proud moment for Americans to see the ideals of equality upon which this country was founded realized once again at the highest level of government. The first time, of course, was when the first black man, Barack Obama, was elected President. All men (and women) are indeed created equal.
This once again proves that black lives do matter in the US. When it comes to personal achievement, we are color blind. That inequity still exists in this country is a function of a variety of factors that include racial prejudice. But it should be clear that color alone is not an impediment.
I am proud of this moment–but I am not proud of how it was achieved. Her selection by the President was based first on the color of her skin. and only after were her judicial qualifications considered. I would have been much happier if had chosen her on the basis of her qualifications, judicial temperament, and pristine character. Which she clearly has in spades. Even her most vociferous critics on the right (like Lindsey Graham) acknowledged that. They just didn’t like her judicial philosophy – which apparently leans leftward. That her color came first takes a little bit away from this achievement. Be that as it may, it is still a moment to celebrate.
That said, the right has done its level best to undermine her confirmation. They don’t like her liberal philosophy, That is not a disqualification. So they attacked her in other ways. all they accomplished was to show how important partisan politics is to them. (And perhaps even showing a bit of underlying racism in some cases.) It is also far from certain that she will always vote against conservative interests. It wouldn’t be the first time a justice presumed to be of one political philosophy has voted against expectations.
Besides, Brown Jackson isn’t even replacing a conservative Justice. She is replacing one of the most liberal Justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court. The conservative majority on the court will remain the same. Which I am quite happy about.
This brings me to an attack against Brown Jackson by the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV). It was about what she said during her confirmation hearings. She spoke warmly about a case involving a sect called Black Hebrew Israelites. A sect that is known to be antisemitic. But as explained in various Jewish media, this particular offshoot had nothing to do with their antisemitic parent organization – having broken with them long before their case came before Judge Brown Jackson. It is also possible that she had no clue about the antisemitism of the Black Hebrew Israelites.
But CJV could not help accusing her of being soft on antisemitism. Which is highly unlikely. CJV was merely showing their conservative political bias with that statement.
This is one reason I never had a desire to join this group of 2000 Orthodox rabbis. (Not that they would necessarily have me.) They seem to be guided by more by conservative politics than they are by Jewish values. I get that many conservative values are favorable to Orthodox Judaism. This is why I tend to lean conservative more often that not. But that they appear to nearly equate conservative values to Jewish values – loses me.
I don’t believe Brown Jackson has an antisemitic bone in her body. I prefer the more reasoned approach of Nate Lewin – a prominent Orthodox Jewish attorney who has argued many cases before the Supreme Court. Before she clerked for Justice Breyer, Brown Jackson worked for the firm in which Lewin was a named partner. His personal experiences with her judicial philosophy actually gives him optimism with respect to issues of Jewish concern in cases that might come before her.
I believe and expect Judge Jackson to be an exemplary Justice who will hopefully decide cases based more on the basis of her intellect and the constitution than based on her liberal political perspective. And as I said, I am proud to be an American on this day.