Price on Politics: Dems using Jackson’s confirmation as political tool – here’s why they shouldn’t

Megan+Fisher

Megan Fisher

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden promised to appoint an African-American woman to the Supreme Court should a vacancy arise during his presidency. On Feb. 25, after the announcement that Justice Stephen Breyer would be stepping down from the court, President Biden followed through on this campaign promise and announced that he would be nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

On April 4, Judge Jackson became the first African-American woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court following a 53-47 confirmation vote in the Senate.This is monumental. For the first time in the Court’s history, there will not be a majority of white males.

Judge Jackson is more than qualified for the position, too. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, Clerked for many judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer and has served as a US District Court Judge and a judge for the US Court of Appeals.

Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is a win for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party as a whole. Going into the midterms, the party needed a boost in ratings and voter confidence.

I don’t believe that Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the court should be used as a political tool, however. 

The Supreme Court’s role in the United States’ government is to uphold the law in a way that is adherent to the Constitution, not to any one party’s beliefs. Yes, the nomination of a justice to the Court is a political tool used by the president. On issues such as abortion, a justice’s view on whether or not a law is constitutional sets a precedent for all other decisions.

Take Roe v. Wade. This case was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973. It was ruled that a state or national law restricting access to abortions is unconstitutional. Since then, it has been a constant battle not only by pro-life activists to overturn Roe v. Wade, but to also get individual bill passed in state legislatures that restrict abortions in varying ways.

Each year, the Supreme Court hears cases concerning these laws passed by state legislatures. The precedent set by the Court in 1973 has caused it to uphold the unconstitutionality of their decision. The judges on the Court have caused this to be the case.

Judges are human and have their own beliefs. Many will tell you, however, that their allegiance is to the Constitution and the rule of law, not to those beliefs. The Supreme Court is meant to be an impartial body, the only one left in the federal government.

The Democrats taking the confirmation of Judge Jackson to the Court and using it for political gain for the upcoming midterm elections undermines the impartiality of the body. It paints the confirmation of Judge Jackson in a light that shows her as an impartial voice on the Court. It assigns to her the expectations of millions of Democrats in a way that she cannot possibly meet while upholding her responsibility to the Constitution.

The midterm elections are seen as a referendum on the sitting president’s time in office. Historically, new presidents that hold a majority in one or both houses of Congress going into office loses them after the midterms. In 2006, President George W. Bush lost a Republican majority in both houses. Obama lost a Democratic majority in 2010 and Trump a Republican majority in 2018. If history is any indication, President Biden will lose these majorities. The only thing the administration can do is attempt to minimize the damage.

While utilizing Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court could be a smart move for Democrats, this does not mean that it is the right move. The federal government has become more and more polarized, especially in recent years. 

The Court has held the highest place of impartiality in the American government. Up and down the Judicial Branch, impartiality is key. If the nation is to uphold its system of government and rule of law, this cannot be broken.

The confirmation of Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court is a monumental step in the right direction for not only equality in the United States, but for continuing to uphold the rule of law, as well. Once Judge Jackson takes the oath and takes her seat on the Supreme Court, the honored impartiality will be upheld.

The Democrats’ prospects are not looking well for the upcoming election. Taking a nomination like Judge Jackson’s and politicizing it taints the impartiality and hurts the Court’s image. 

Democrats are grasping at straws for 2022, but they must grasp at more tangible straws that will not endanger the working ability of a sacred American institution.

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.