What do Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings say about GOP strategy pre-midterms?

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wipes away tears as she listens to U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speak on the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill on Mar. 23, 2022. Photo by Jabin Botsford/Pool via Reuters. Photo by Jabin Botsford/Pool via Reuters.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic confirmation hearings are now underway. She seems to be on pace to become the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not without some friction.

Republicans grilled Jackson this week about some of her past cases, but also about a children’s book, her religious beliefs, and the definition of a “woman,” all with the goal of opening a window into what her future rulings might look like. So, were they successful? And did we learn anything about her legal philosophy?

Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Sarah Isgur, staff writer and podcast host for the Dispatch, on the right; and David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect, on the left. 

Next: Confirmation hearings are always political – and these were politically supercharged. Woven throughout Republican senators’ questioning were issues that seemed to pander to their voter base, between child pornography and critical race theory. Could that be a dangerous move that damages their credibility? Or is it just one more way they can get people out to vote going into the midterms?

Plus: The dark cloud of a potential nuclear war is brewing. Vladimir Putin has refused to rule out using weapons of mass destruction in his invasion of Ukraine, and the United States has started preparing a contingency plan if Russia does go nuclear.

To help us understand what’s at stake, we bring on our special guest Uri Friedman, who is a managing editor at the Atlantic Council and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. How does this moment compare to past tensions? How does Russia’s struggle to win a decisive victory in Ukraine complicate efforts? And how can we use diplomacy to prevent Putin from doing the unthinkable? 

Finally, our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about why women and minority history months get problematic, and anything “anti-Joe Manchin” is good.  

P.S. Please send your love to panelist Sarah Isgur, who joined us despite a bout of COVID and is gratefully ranting about vaccines in between naps.