Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was not alone when she wiped away tears during Cory Booker's impassioned "Nobody's Going to Steal My Joy" speech on Thursday. By the time he was finished, members of her family and a staffer sitting behind Booker were observed wiping away their own tears. I blink them back myself as I write this.
Booker told Russell Berman, staff writer at The Atlantic, "The energy in the room was really just not good." He wanted to change that energy, so he chose not to speak directly to the scurrilous charges leveled against her by the usual suspects.
I was trying to center her positive candidacy, her extraordinary light. I knew that those 20 minutes, those precious 20 minutes, were an opportunity to change the frequency from the negative back to the positive, to refocus the light on her glory…as soon as someone makes a charge of racism, people fall into their defensive camps. I’m not talking about racism. I’m talking about decency.
He went on to tell Berman, "I'm not going to try to get into the head of my colleagues to understand what’s motivating them. It’s a fool’s errand. I’m trying not to meet the frequency of that room. I was trying to change the frequency of that room."
Three Republicans told Booker they found his remarks powerful and praised him for "taking things to a higher level." Berman asked if any of them would vote to confirm Katanji Brown Jackson. Booker laughed. "Not a one." ('I'm Not Talking About Racism. I’m Talking About Decency.')
The bar for taking things to a higher level could hardly have been lower after the statesmen Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Lindsey Graham devoted the week to spewing out a smear campaign worthy of Joe McCarthy and the Red scare of the early 1950s. She was, they said, a tool of the radical left, soft on pornography and pedophilia, and if not a devoted follower at least a fellow traveler of critical race theory and the 1619 Project. Every charge was multiply debunked and refuted by Jackson herself and numerous others inside the committee room and out.
There is speculation, unfortunately far from idle, that the Senate Judiciary Committee, made up of eleven Democrats and eleven Republicans, will deadlock on a party line vote. Democrat leadership will have to go through additional rigmarole to bring Jackson's nomination to the floor for a vote by the full Senate, where it will surprise no one if she does not receive a single Republican vote. With all Democrats presumably voting to confirm, Vice President Kamala Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote and the eminently qualified and admirably dignified Jackson will become Justice Jackson.
Nothing could speak more clearly to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party than the way this has played out. Not just the Trumpist wing. Not just the ones who disgrace themselves every time they stand, or in the case of the Jackson hearings, sit in front of a microphone and a camera. The party. Period.