Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, faces up to 11 hours of grilling Tuesday on Day 2 of her four-day confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jackson, 51, who currently sits on the nation’s second most powerful court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, will be questioned by each of the committee’s 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats over two days. On Thursday, senators can ask questions of the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses.
While Democrats have the votes to confirm President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee on their own, and hope to by the middle of April, the hearings could prove critical to the White House goal of securing at least some Republican support and shoring up the court’s credibility.
ABC News Live will air gavel-to-gavel coverage of the hearings all week.
ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer, reporting from inside the hearing room, said the big takeaway so far is that Jackson has stayed “calm, cool and collected.” With no major missteps or gaffes, he said, and a slim Democratic majority on her side, she appears on her way to Senate confirmation.
There was some tension in the morning session when Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Jackson a barrage of questions on her faith, to which she declined to go in-depth, saying she’s “mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”
Graham, who let it be known his favored nominee was not selected, went on to say he wasn’t trying to attack Jackson but make a point about how “our people” – conservative judicial appointees – have been treated in the past.
In the afternoon session, Republicans are expected to continue pressing Jackson on court precedent, her record as a federal public defender and representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and her sentences for child sex offenders, among other issues.
As senators try to probe her judicial philosophy, Jackson told the committee that she has developed a methodology that she uses when approaching any case to ensure impartially and stressed that she views her role as a judge as “limited.”
Catch up on key takeaways from Monday’s session here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has gone into a break until approximately 1:30 p.m. after a marathon morning of questions from Democrats and Republicans on the committee considering Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
After the break, 15 more senators will have 30 minutes each for one on one questions with Jackson, giving them the chance to probe her judicial philosophy, her record as a public defender and her legal opinions spanning nearly nine years on the bench.
The grilling is unlike any other for federal judges or political nominees in large part because of the nature of the high court and the justices’ lifetime tenure.
-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer
In his questioning, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Judge Jackson about same-sex marriage and asserted that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which said same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, conflicts with the beliefs of some religions.
“When the Supreme Court decides that something that is not even in the Constitution is a fundamental right and no state can pass any law that conflicts with the Supreme Court’s edict, particularly in an area where people have sincerely held religious beliefs, doesn’t that necessarily create a conflict between what people may believe as a matter of their religious doctrine or faith and what the federal government says is the law of the land?” Cornyn asked.
“That is the nature of a right,” Jackson replied. “That when there is a right it means that there are limitations on regulation, even if people are regulating pursuant to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Pressed further on whether that is an act of judicial policymaking, Jackson said the Supreme Court considered that to be an “application of the substantive due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” which ensures equal protection under the law.
Cornyn continued to bash the court for what he called establishing a new “unenumerated right” and asked Jackson, what other unenumerated rights are “out there.”
“Senator, I can’t say. It’s a hypothetical that I’m not in a position to comment on. The rights that the Supreme Court has recognized as substantive due process rights are established in its case law,” she said.
Later on, Cornyn lamented that he thinks “nominees from both parties tend to be over-coached.”
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Judge Jackson’s family members showed their support again on the second day of her confirmation hearings with their steady presence inside the hearing room as she fielded, at times, contentious questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jackson’s husband, Patrick, a general surgeon, was again seated behind Jackson. Photographers snapped photos of him sporting Benjamin Franklin-themed socks and jotting down notes during the morning session.
Jackson’s parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, were also in the audience, near two seats reserved for Jackson’s daughters, Talia, 21, and Leila, 17. Leila arrived in the room after the morning break.
In an emotional moment on Monday, Jackson’s daughters looked to their father as he wiped away tears while Jackson read her opening statement.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner