31 Mar 2022 Confirmation Bias
You might not know it from the news coverage, but Ketanji Brown Jackson isn’t the first black person to be named to the United States Supreme Court. She’s not even the second. But the fawning coverage might make you think she was—especially in contrast to the last black American named to the high court, Justice Clarence Thomas.
The media’s treatment of a liberal nominee versus a conservative nominee has been a study in stark contrasts these past weeks.
According to the media, Jackson is brilliant and accomplished. A sitting judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and a former vice-chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission with two degrees from Harvard, we’re told her background is unassailable. But Clarence Thomas was an assistant secretary at the Department of Education, chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and a Yale law graduate.
When he was appointed in 1991, the media felt obligated to ask President George H. W. Bush if Thomas was selected only because of his race; they responded with skepticism when the president replied he didn’t believe there was a “black seat on the Court” and had instead chosen the best man for the job.
In contrast, Joe Biden said explicitly during the 2020 campaign and again following Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement announcement in January that race was the only rationale in Jackson’s selection. The media now says that any inquiry about the reason for her selection is unfair and probably racist.
After a week of hearings, we learned a great deal about Jackson, namely her sympathies with respect to critical race theory, which aims to unfairly tar America as a vessel for racism and white supremacy. We also heard her explain her soft spot for convicted child pornographers going back to her time as a law student at Harvard.
Maybe most enlightening of all, we heard Jackson refuse to define the word “woman” because, in her memorable words, “I’m not a biologist.” Even grading on a curve, it is clear she’s a subpar candidate. Note the contrast with Thomas, who ably presented himself to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and yet then the media reported that he had concealed his “right-wing” ambitions.
Jackson rejects the notion that the Constitution is a contract and should be interpreted the way the ratifiers understood it. Instead, she thinks it impedes the woke agenda. Thomas, then and now, understands that a judge must not impose his own views and must carefully ensure that the rulings are based on the contours of the Constitution.
If Thomas had held idiosyncratic views on child pornography or race, there would be a media frenzy to discredit his confirmation. In fact, it was precisely because of the remarkable job he did during his formal confirmation hearing that the Anita Hill smear ultimately took place.
Fortunately for Jackson—and liberals who are desperate to replace Justice Stephen Breyer with a like-minded jurist—that type of scrutiny doesn’t exist for Democratic nominees.
Recently, in the Ohio Capital Journal, Santa Clara University law professor Margaret Russell compared Jackson’s confirmation hearing to Thurgood Marshall’s. Russell asserted that Republican senators were out of line for questioning Jackson’s writings and speeches in praise of the “1619 Project” (a fundamentally racist revision of history) and her apparent belief that a defendant’s race should be a factor in criminal sentencing.
Where was the defense of Clarence Thomas when he was first nominated? Where was the corporate press when a black nominee, more polished and qualified than any other candidate to fill Thurgood Marshall’s seat, was attacked by an accuser who had an ax to grind and couldn’t even explain her own charges when given a chance? The answer is abundantly clear and has been for a long time: black conservatives are held to deserve a special place in leftist Hell because they pose the largest threat to the narrative that people of color are incapable of any success without the Democratic Party’s patronage.
Jackson may be the greatest example of this narrative in action. She was selected precisely because of her race and her progressive views, not for her skills as a jurist.
Under normal circumstances, her views would never be considered for the nation’s highest court. But as Joe Biden continues to hit record lows in his approval ratings and is bleeding minority support at alarming rates, he knew it would be politically advantageous to select a woke black woman to the Supreme Court.
Ironically, upon retiring from the Court, Thurgood Marshall said his seat shouldn’t be viewed as an African American seat but rather one to be filled by the most qualified candidate. That candidate then was Clarence Thomas, who checked every box as a talented jurist and whose brilliance has made him the most influential member of the Supreme Court, despite persistent efforts by partisans in the press to tar him unfairly with phony conflict of interest charges.
Clarence Thomas will be recognized one day as the most influential judge of the 21st century. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be an asterisk.
As we await Jackson’s confirmation vote next week, one thing has already been confirmed: the hypocrisy and double standards of the corporate left-wing media.
New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.