How To Watch Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearings


Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for her confirmation hearings, during which she will publicly testify as to her qualifications to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The hearings, which are scheduled to last four days, will kick off 24 days after President Biden announced the historic selection of Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. With the nomination by Mr. Biden, Jackson became the first Black woman to be selected for the high court, and if confirmed by the evenly divided Senate, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The president’s announcement marked the beginning of Jackson’s confirmation process, and she has spent the month thus far meeting behind closed doors with Democratic and Republican senators. But the hearings that start Monday will give Jackson the opportunity to publicly explain her decisions across her nearly nine years on the federal bench, how she approaches cases and what she believes is the role of the Supreme Court.

The addition of Jackson to the Supreme Court will not alter its ideological balance, but at 51 years old, she is positioned to serve for decades.

With Democrats controlling 50 seats in the Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking tie votes, Jackson can be confirmed without Republican support, and Democrats hope the Senate will hold its final vote before it breaks for a two-week recess April 8.

But the White House and Democratic leaders are hoping the Senate will approve her nomination with backing from both parties. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, estimated half-a-dozen Republicans could vote to confirm Jackson, and some GOP senators have suggested they’re open to doing so.

Three Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, backed Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the District of Columbia Circuit last year. Durbin told reporters this month part of his appeal to Republicans who opposed her confirmation to the D.C. Circuit is that her confirmation would make history.

Jackson’s confirmation hearings will be four days. On Monday, committee members and Jackson will have 10 minutes each to make opening statements, and she will be introduced by outside witnesses, who have five minutes apiece to speak.

There will then be two days of questions from senators to Jackson. On Tuesday, members will have 30 minutes each for questions, and on Wednesday, they’ll each receive 20 minutes for a second round. Also on Wednesday, the committee will meet for a closed-door session to discuss Jackson’s FBI background investigation, which is standard for Supreme Court nominees.

On the final day, the committee will hear from the American Bar Association, which evaluates the qualifications of nominees to the federal bench, and outside witnesses. Witnesses and senators will have five minutes each for statements and questions, respectively.

Jackson has appeared before the Judiciary Committee three times before: as a nominee to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and when she was selected to the federal district court and appeal court in Washington. She was confirmed with bipartisan support for each post.

In the run-up to Jackson’s confirmation, Republicans have honed in on her two years working as an assistant federal public defender and on the Sentencing Commission, claiming her nomination is part of a broader push by Mr. Biden to make the federal judiciary “softer on crime.”

But Jackson has support from numerous law enforcement groups, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Fraternal Order of Police, dozens of former members of law enforcement, and 23 Democratic attorneys general.

How to watch Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings

What: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings
Date: Beginning Monday, March 21
Time: 11 a.m. ET
Location: U.S. Capitol
All major stations and YouTube will be covering the hearing.