Georgia-based lawmakers and leaders weigh in on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 9:15 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2022 at 9:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, seated in front of her parents, her family and friends, began the first day of confirmation hearings in her nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

“My parents taught me that unlike the many barriers that they had growing up, my path was clearer, so that if I worked hard and I believed in myself in America that I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be,” Jackson told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As she acknowledged her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, he became tearful, smiling and nodding at Jackson, along with their daughters.

Jackson went on to outline her values extending from nine years as a federal judge working in Washington, D.C. and a decades long career as a lawyer and judge, a role in which she issued more than 500 judicial opinions.

I have been a judge for nearly a decade now and I take my duty to be independent seriously,” Jackson said.

U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, from Atlanta, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He spoke of the questions he plans to ask and also acknowledged the historic moment of Jackson being the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Through your brilliance and resilience and hard work, you have already rendered great service to the nation as a federal judge. And as a Black woman, you have overcome deeply rooted obstacles to earn nomination to our nation’s highest court,” Ossoff said to Jackson.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker also shared in the excitement.

“This is not a normal day for America. We have never had this moment before and I just want to talk about the joy,” Booker exclaimed.

While Republican senators did not try to challenge Jackson’s qualifications in the opening day, several made it clear that they will be asking tough questions in the coming days as they critique Jackson’s judicial record and her interpretation of the Constitution.

“It’s no secret I voted against Judge Jackson’s nomination to the circuit court last year, but I want to give her the opportunity to show why I should vote for her this time,” said U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas.

Watching the hearings on her phone, State Rep. Rhonda Burnough is a part of a collective of more than 300 Black women who have launched weeks of support and rallies for Jackson through the Black Women’s Leadership Collective.

“One of the things they wanted us to do is to have the world’s largest African-American women watch party,” Burnough told CBS46. “It’s an exciting time for African American women. It’s an exciting time for African American girls. It’s an exciting time for brown girls... Her story is our story,” she continued.

Senators will be reviewing any and every part of Jackson’s legal history as a lawyer and a judge. Emory Law professor Fred Smith said there are three main points judges consider when deciding cases.

“The court, when it’s answering a legal question, looks at the text, the history, and the precedent,” Smith said. “They’re going to sometimes weigh those differently, but those are the three guide posts the judges will use, including Judge Jackson.”

The committee will begin questioning on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and will continue Wednesday. Witnesses will speak on Thursday.