Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer recently announced his retirement effective in June or July once the court’s current term ends. In 2020, then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he would choose a black woman if given a chance to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat. He followed through with that promise by selecting DC Appeals Court judge Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Senate confirmation hearings began to consider Brown’s appointment to the nation’s highest court began on March 21. Over the years, several nominees’ confirmation either barely passed in the Senate, or tanked altogether, because a candidate failed to disclose previous writings or pertinent information. Brown appears to be trying to avoid that pitfall. She disclosed a highly controversial letter to the committee written during her time as a law clerk suggesting a journalist was racist and calling him names.
Brown Releases Controversial Letter
Judge Brown told Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) that she looks to the Constitution and its public meaning to interpret the text when considering cases. This was a major win for conservatives who were shocked to hear a Democratic nominee tell a Democratic Senate majority that she embraces original public meaning. At any other time, that might cause serious questions from the Left.
Still, that wasn’t the zinger of the day. That distinction was reserved for a letter of political persuasion that Brown provided the committee as it considered her confirmation to the Supreme Court. Brown wrote the letter while serving as a clerk for a federal judge in 1997. In it, she challenged a Boston Herald reporter for suggesting black voters select incompetent, incorrigible, or inebriated leaders. She said the columnist was irredeemably evil.
Boston Herald columnist Don Feder wrote in 1997 that the white population could decrease significantly due to open border policies. He added that race was an issue in America because of race hustlers and Democratic coalition politics. It appears that Judge Brown took deep exception to that assessment.
Did Judge Brown Violate Rules of Conduct?
There is a reason law clerks rarely share their personal or political opinions while serving a judge. The two-year clerk programs are highly sought after, and they are expected to reflect the judge’s neutrality. That means they are to avoid any political participation or perception that could cause them to appear biased or political. In more recent times, clerks often go dark on social media or delete accounts to protect their positions as a clerk.
Some suggest Brown may have violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by penning the letter and undermining her impartiality as a law clerk.
The letter isn’t likely to help her cause with Republicans. Still, it won’t matter as long Senate Democrats all vote together.
It only takes a simple majority to confirm a nominee to the US Supreme Court. Unless something unforeseen happens, Brown is likely to secure all Democratic votes and may add one or two Republican votes to confirm her to the upcoming vacant Supreme Court seat.