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What Judge Jackson exposed about the legal Left

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a fine person with an impressive resume, should nonetheless not be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Her record and testimony show she is outside what should be the mainstream of American jurisprudence.

This week’s hearings on Jackson’s nomination were quite valuable because they exposed, in numerous ways, a far-left legal orthodoxy that knows its beliefs, values, and legal reasoning are not shared by the vast majority of voters. That’s why Jackson and her Democratic Senate enablers so often obfuscated and misled whenever directly challenged.

For example, despite having a history of paying homage to critical race theory, Jackson repeatedly spoke during the hearings as if she were barely familiar with its precepts.

Likewise, to protect legal options for the aggressive agenda of transgender activists, she infamously claimed to not know how to define a “woman.” And even when Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse repeatedly teed up a softball for her, almost begging her to agree that college students should have no heckler’s veto against free speech, she kept dodging commitment on that issue as well.

Meanwhile, even if there may be good explanations for some of Jackson’s sentencing decisions, it is simply a fact that Jackson has spent a quarter-century, in multiple forums and jobs, suggesting, and ruling, that child pornographers be treated more leniently. The problem, though, is broader than that. Even no-nonsense legal analysts who said Republican questioners failed to acknowledge the context in her favor regarding child pornographers noted that her “theory” of sentencing would undermine the federal sentencing guidelines in favor of leniency all across the board, not just with sex offenders.

The larger problem in all this, though, isn’t that Jackson’s jurisprudential approach is uniquely objectionable — although, despite some nods to reason, it is objectionable — but that she appears to be part of a whole leftist legal movement that is hostile to American norms. Just as Sasse noted that even avowedly liberal professors are outraged by their more extreme-left colleagues, so too are old-fashioned liberal lawyers and judges — in other words, within the “mainstream” — now outshouted by the hard-left activist groups that pressured President Joe Biden to nominate Jackson. The hard Left’s agenda for the courts involves a preoccupation with subjects related to race and sex. It holds that the law, rather than being colorblind, should treat some races “more equally than others” in order to produce desired social outcomes. It holds that gender norms should be undermined and children hypersexualized at early ages by state instructors.

Critical legal studies and its offspring, critical race theory, are openly Marxist projects. They and the submovements closely associated with them are markedly hostile to the bedrock values of American society: self-reliance, the structure of the nuclear family, the work ethic, written tradition, private property, and even majority rule. All of those examples came, amazingly, from web pages of, and were endorsed by, the Smithsonian Institution.

And along with its racial and gender obsessions, the Left makes almost a fetish of its misplaced sympathy for and leniency toward many criminal offenders. And, notably, it is highly antagonistic to First Amendment speech protections, making disciples of law students across the country who shout down and physically threaten speakers with whom they disagree.

By her evasions and casuistry on topics of race, gender, sentencing leniency, and speech disruptions, Jackson shows at the very least a marked unwillingness to disavow specific applications of the hard Left’s legal agenda. When speaking in generalities, she gives encomiums to the dominance of conservative, originalist jurisprudence. But when associated, sometimes by her own words, with the leftist legal agenda, she feigns obliviousness to it all. And when she doesn’t, as in providing a superficially and cleverly plausible open-borders ruling, her actual reasoning was so ludicrous that even her fellow liberal judges later overruled her.

Jackson is in many ways an admirable and likable lady and lawyer with very real career accomplishments. If the content of her record and testimony were dubious in just one area or two, her resume and temperament might still recommend that she be confirmed. Alas, too many red flags abound, both on substance and from her evasiveness. The radical movement that elevated her, and whose legal tenets she will not denounce, is too far from the mainstream to be given a foothold on the nation’s highest court.