Sen. Hawley Says Not Having Black Women on Staff Plays No Role in Jackson Confirmation Hearing

Mar 23, 2022
3:24 PM

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Supreme Court nominee, responding to questions from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (Pablo Manríquez/Latino Rebels)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who sits on the Judiciary Committee currently holding a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, told Latino Rebels on Wednesday that he doesn’t employ any Black women on his staff or thinks it’s necessary for informing his decisions.

Asked if he thought having Black women on staff would help him effectively approach the hearing, Hawley responded: “In order to ask questions of a judicial nominee? No.”

“[Republican senators] have a real problem with strong African American women,” said a senior Democratic senator not involved in the confirmation hearing and speaking on background.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Hawley sought to paint Judge Jackson as soft on child pornographers, referring to a 2013 case where federal guidelines recommended a 10-year sentence and Jackson gave the defendant three months.

“Is it your view that society is too hard on sex offenders?” Hawley asked Jackson directly.

“It is heinous. It is egregious,” Jackson said of the two dozen photos found in 18-year-old Wesley Hawkins’ possession. “What a judge has to do is determine how to sentence defendants proportionately consistent with the elements that the statutes include with the requirements that Congress has set forward.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has also pushed the child pornographer line of questioning on Judge Jackson throughout the hearing.

“Do you believe the voice of the children is heard when 100 percent of the time you’re sentencing those in possession of child pornography to far below what the prosecutors asking for?” Cruz asked after producing a chart showing how, in several cases, Judge Jackson had given sentences that were 14 percent to 64 percent shorter than what the prosecutors had requested.

“Yes, Senator, I do,” Jackson responded, saying that Cruz had failed to include all the factors judges were obligated to consider by Congress.

Unlike Hawley, Cruz employs at least one Black woman on his staff. Asked by Latino Rebels if his Black women employees were informing his approach to the Supreme Court hearing, Cruz declined to answer directly.

“I’m gonna decline to comment on particular staff members,” said Cruz. “They deserve to have their privacy protected.”

In Tuesday’s hearing, Cruz displayed large photos from Antiracist Baby, a children’s book by Ibram X. Kendi, and asked Judge Jackson if the book was taught at Georgetown Day School, a private school in Washington, D.C. where she sits on the board of trustees. “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids, that babies are racist?”

“Senator,” Jackson said after letting out a loud sigh, “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or though they are not valued, or though they are less than, that they are victims, that they are oppressors. I do not believe in any of that.”

In February, Latino Rebels asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) how many Black women he employed on his staff and whether they were informing his decision on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination.

“Actually, I haven’t checked,” McConnell said. “We don’t have a racial quota in my office. But I’ve had a number of African American employees, both male and female, over the years, in all kinds of different positions, including speechwriter.”


Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports