At the White House, an emotional Ketanji Brown Jackson says, ‘We’ve made it, all of us’

Public defenders are the bedrock of our legal system. How Tom Cotton damaged that

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 04: U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for a meeting with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on Capitol Hill, April 04. Jackson was confirmed Thursday in a 53-47 vote. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Since it seems to have become something of a thing of late, here’s what the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says about the right to an attorney and the right to a fair and speedy trial:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

You will note that the nation’s foundational document does not say you get to “have the assistance of counsel” for your defense unless you’re an accused terrorist, or a Nazi, or, even if you’re Attila the Hun and you’re fresh off sacking some far-flung province of the Roman Empire.

Nope. You have the right to an attorney. Period. And, as further case law dictates, if you “cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” It’s legal chapter and verse that every American, raised on a steady diet of Law & Order reruns, knows by heart.

Unless, of course, you’re U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a 2002 graduate of Harvard Law School, who took Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to task on the Senate floor earlier this week for her previous work as a federal public defender.

As a refresher, the Biden White House’s Supreme Court pick represented Guantánamo detainees — which, as a federal public defender, is something her job required her to do under the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

Then, Cotton, a “no” vote on Jackson’s nomination, who almost certainly knows better, but wasn’t above a bit of posturing for the cameras, went one better, and brought up the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who served on the court from 1941 until his death in 1954.

“You know, the last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg to prosecute the case against the Nazis,” Cotton appallingly said, according to the Washington Post. “This Judge Jackson might have gone there to defend them.”

Jackson won confirmation to the high court with a 53-47 vote on Thursday afternoon. She will be the first Black woman to serve on the court.

Cotton was half right, according to the Post. The late Justice Jackson did step away from the high court to prosecute Nazis for war crimes at the Nuremberg tribunals. But he not only also supported the defendants’ right to counsel, he also played a key role in helping to enshrine the right to a defense lawyer into international law, the newspaper reported. Read more

U.S. Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson, ‘America at its best,’ to Supreme Court

U.S. Senate heads toward final vote this week on Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation

As Sen. Tillis reiterates opposition to Ketanji Brown Jackson, Booker quotes NC poet Maya Angelou (video)

North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) said Monday while Ketanji Brown Jackson was the ‘realization of the American dream’ he would oppose her historic nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is not about the content of her character. This has to do with future decisions where I believe, and I hope that I am proven wrong, that Justice Jackson may go in a direction that runs counter to much of what we have talked about today,” explained Tillis.

Tillis’ remarks came as the Judiciary Committee deadlocked on sending the nomination to the Senate floor.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said throughout the confirmation process he has heard from women, especially highly qualified Black women, who have had to deal with the same level of disrespect Judge Jackson has endured.

“How qualified do you have to be? Double Harvard. How qualified do you have to be? Clerking at all levels of the federal judiciary. How qualified do you have to be? Three times confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan manner,” said Booker as he asked and answered his own questions, detailing her professional experience.

Booker blasted colleagues for their mischaracterization of Jackson’s record.

Booker ended his remarks by quoting from North Carolina poet Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Rise Sister Jackson! Rise Judge Jackson! All the way to the highest court in the land. And when we have that final vote, I will rejoice. Ancestors will rejoice,” Booker concluded.

Judge Jackson has won the support of three GOP senators and could win final confirmation later this week.

Watch the remarks below: