As was the case on ABC and NBC, CBS flaunted its liberal leanings and gush Thursday for incoming Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson following her Senate confirmation vote, couching their admiration in her being someone to revere beyond ideology (given her gender and skin color) while admonishing Republicans for having “wasted” her confirmation hearings and suggested senators do “soul-searching.”
Longtime legal correspondent Jan Crawford got the festivities going when she expressed hope that, while Jackson won’t formally change the Court’s ideological tilt, her life “experiences” could convince “other justices to rethink positions or — or opinions.”
Embattled CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell reflected on the hearings and, in noting the vote totals for Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas, she touted how Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) used statements in support of Jackson to decry “how corrosive the process has become.”
Congressional correspondent Nikole Killion acknowledged Murkowski’s laments as a way of saying Jackson’s ordeal illustrated how senators “acknowledge that the process is broken and there is still a lot of bad blood from the hearings with Justice Kavanaugh, from the rapid hearings with Justice Amy Coney Barrett and then from the questioning that we saw with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, which many...felt was beyond the pale.”
“So, certainly going forward, senators of both parties will have to do some soul-searching about how they want to conduct this process going forward,” Killion added. Seeing as how it's in reference to Jackson, it’s clear which party they’re referring to.
Despite some tough questioning in the last year of Press Secretary Jen Psaki, senior White House correspondent Weijia Jiang was ebullient for Team Biden, calling it “a really substantial victory for the President, just when he needs it most” given his struggling poll numbers on inflation and foreign crises because a “concerted effort...to celebrate...his domestic policy wins” hasn’t “penetrate[d].”
O’Donnell and chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett then had a history lesson that, to their credit, included then-Senator Biden’s treatment of the late Robert Bork. When it came to Jackson’s hearings, however, Garrett dismissed questions about her sentencing record on child sex predators as a midterms ploy and “a sure-fire headline” for “Republican-inspired media” (click “expand”):
O’DONNELL: [T]he confirmation process is only about their qualifications —
O’DONNELL: — their temperament, and all of that, but they have become increasingly partisan. Many people say they started when Joe Biden was actually chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Robert — a guy named Robert Bork —
O’DONNELL: — was “borked” as that verb has become. But what we did see in the confirmation hearings is really the battle lines drawn for an upcoming election, right?
GARRETT: That's right. So, Republicans used the confirmation process not so much to dissect Judge Jackson’s approach to the Constitution or her record judicially — there was a little bit of that — but there was much more emphasis on things like what was your sentencing record dealing with child pornography cases, always a sure-fire headline in some quarters of Republican-inspired media. And so, that is part of a bridge to soft on crime, which is a larger metric for Republicans in the midterm elections. So, the process historically was advise and consent. What it has become is advise and discontent and discontent is on whatever side is in the minority and trying to block the President's nominee. And everyone has tremendous muscle memory on this. As you said, Republicans can go all the way about to Robert Bork, Democrats will say what about Merrick Garland and then they’ll say what about Brett Kavanaugh, and they’ll say what about — and everyone has a what about in the Supreme Court process because it’s now more commonly filtered through the politics of primaries, nominating, and presidencies, which is a big change from 20 to 25 years ago when that wasn't the case. You didn't have Supreme Court choices being filtered through a primary, nominating, and presidential process as distinctly as they are now, so that politics carries all the way through the process.
Crawford and O’Donnell kept on this thread as, after Crawford noted that hearings are “an important public service” to hear and see justices, the latter lamented: “[W]as that public service and that opportunity wasted by many of the senators who talked about whether she...coddled pedophiles...as opposed to larger issues about constitutional issues[?]”
Crawford replied it was a byproduct of “both sides” having altered the Supreme Court nominee process to which Garrett surmised the Ginsberg rule came out of the openness Bork displayed.
Garrett added an analogy to the discussion, saying supporters of nominees come to hearings with “pillows” while “[t]he side against them brings straight razors.”
Once the final vote was announced, O’Donnell interjected amid raucous applause in the Senate:
April 7, 2022, at 2:18, the first Black woman is approved by the United States Senate to serve on the highest court in the land. No matter your politics, it is a moment of profound, a profound moment for this country.
Moments later, Killion called it “a joyous and historic moment,” swooning that “it is fitting to know that Vice President Kamala Harris....presided over this vote.”
Killion continued the fawning, borrowing a page from O’Donnell with the “no matter your politics” line (click “expand”):
KILLION: [T]hat is certainly the hope, that many Black women in particular have, with respect to this nomination, that it will open doors in the process so that judge, soon-to-be Justice Jackson, won't just be the first, but that she also won't be the last. And so, it is about filling up that pipeline in the federal judiciary, where less than two percent right now are made up of African-American women. So, I think it’s just important to note that history...[A]gain, no matter your politics, the fact that a Black woman has now been confirmed to the Supreme Court in its 233-year history is significant. And perhaps the part of Judge Jackson's testimony that stood out to me most was when she talked about the trajectory, talked about her parents going to a segregated schools and, within a generation, being able to graduate from Harvard, being able to serve on the district court, being able to serve in the circuit court, and now ascending to the highest court of the land. Even she was in awe of that trajectory. So, again, this is about not only Judge Jackson, but certainly young, Black girls, young girls, people across this country opening up more doors of opportunity, no matter your race, creed, or color.
O’DONNELL: Well said, Nikole Killion. And Judge Jackson said in those Senate hearings, “I hope to inspire people to try to follow this path” — the path she took as she said she loves this country and she loves the law.
To see the relevant CBS transcript from April 7, click here.