President Joe Biden's nominee for the United States Supreme Court came under fire from Republicans at her confirmation hearings for, of all things, the curriculum of a private school in Washington.
It had nothing to do with her qualifications for the Supreme Court.
It had nothing to do with the Supreme Court at all.
It was all about politics, and the Republicans who led the charge should be ashamed of themselves for making a mockery of the confirmation process.
There was a time when would-be justices weren't even expected to express their views on constitutional issues. Much less on school curricula.
Robert Bork's implosion during his confirmation hearings — the result of tough questioning based on his provocative scholarship — led to an era of politicized hearings in which most would-be justices portrayed themselves as little more than umpires calling the balls and strikes.
As if deciding whether Roe v. Wade should still be the law of the land is a matter of balls and strikes.
But it's hard to think of a confirmation hearing that had less to do with either the qualifications of the nominee or the job she will hold for life than the ones that have been taking place in the shadow of the war in Ukraine and the explosion in inflation.
These hearings are a must-miss unless you are particularly interested in what the kids at Georgetown Day School are studying in the kindergarten class.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is eminently qualified for the Court, which is why the Republicans, rather than focus on anything relevant, have turned the Judiciary Committee hearings into an audition round for those running for president of the school board of the United States, excuse me, of the presidency.
It was an outrage. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., with her accusations of a "woke kindergarten" program, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with his blow-up of "Antiracist Baby."
Georgetown Day School was founded in 1945 by Jewish and Black parents who wanted their children to go to school together, in defiance of segregation laws enforced at the time.
That this school should become the target for these short-sighted Republicans is especially obnoxious, in light of that history.
But they don't care.
Ostensibly, the senators, and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., can also be added to this list, were concerned that the school, whose board Jackson has served on for three years, had been co-opted by critical race theory.
I think it's fair to assume that, with their own guns to their heads, none of the attacking senators could accurately describe what critical race theory even is.
Jackson, who knows that a branch of legal theory taught in elite law schools and not in kindergarten had nothing to do with her qualifications, kept her cool and her distance from curricula issues.
The students at Georgetown Day look more like America than the U.S. Senate does.
Forty percent identify themselves as students of color, and tuition runs at more than $40,000 a year. Unlike the attacks on critical race theory that shaped last year's governor's race in Virginia, there is no "parents' rights" angle to private school book choices. No one forces anyone to go to Georgetown Day; quite the contrary, parents compete to win admission for their children.
But why should Republican senators be troubled by such a small point of principle when mud is being slung at a busy woman who found time to serve on the board?
Hypocrisy is Ted Cruz's middle name. He went on to read a passage from another book on the library catalog at Georgetown Day — and, as The New York Times pointed out, on the reading list of the private school that Cruz's own children attend in Houston.
Jackson told Cruz that she had not reviewed these books and that she had no occasion to review them in her work.
"The idea of equality, justice, is at the core of the Georgetown Day School mission," she testified.
"It's a private school such that every parent who joins the community does so willingly, with an understanding that they're joining a community that is designed to make sure that every child is valued, every child is treated as having inherent worth, and none are discriminated against because of race."
Exactly what is wrong with that?
Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.