Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson mentioned God and her Christian faith several times already this week during her U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, though pro-life and religious leaders have serious concerns about her views on abortion and religious freedom.
Jackson is President Joe Biden’s choice to fill retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat; and Biden promised to choose a justice who believes in the so-called “right” to abort an unborn baby. She also has the support of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which advocates for abortions without limits up to birth, and leftist “dark money” groups.
In her opening remarks Monday, Jackson brought up her Christian faith, saying it gives her strength as she seeks to be confirmed to the highest court in the land, according to the Associated Press.
“I must also pause to reaffirm my thanks to God, for it is faith that sustains me at this moment,” Jackson said. “Even prior to today, I can honestly say that my life had been blessed beyond measure.”
Later, when asked what faith she belongs to, Jackson described herself as a non-denominational Protestant Christian. However, she has been consistently “vague” about her religious views, the AP noted.
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Asked about her church attendance, Jackson told the Senate committee, “I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way just because I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”
She also has been vague in her responses to questions about abortion and religious freedom.
According to the AP, “Jackson has faced some cases involving church-state law, but she has refused to lay out a philosophy addressing it.” For example, she told senators in a written response to their questions that it is an “indisputable fact” that the U.S. Constitution “protects a fundamental and foundational right to religious liberty.”
“I have not expressed any personal views of the scope and contours of the fundamental right to religious liberty, and it would not be appropriate for me to do so,” Jackson continued.
But Americans deserve answers about her judicial philosophy on such important issues, Roger Severino, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told the news outlet.
“She gave the platitudes,” Severino said. “Nobody’s going to come out and say, ‘I’m against religious liberty.’ But here’s the thing: When she’s on the Supreme Court, she no longer has the duty to follow Supreme Court precedent. She could overrule the Supreme Court precedent.”
Pro-life leaders and Republicans have raised many concerns about Jackson’s record. In 2001, she co-authored an amicus brief supporting a Massachusetts law that created a floating “buffer zone” to prevent pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching women outside of abortion facilities. Her clients included NARAL and the Abortion Access Project of Massachusetts.
She also ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to defund the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood, and she clerked for pro-abortion Justice Breyer when he issued an opinion against the partial-birth abortion ban.
Last week, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, raised other concerns about Jackson’s “soft” record on criminals convicted of child pornography offenses.
Jackson’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to continue through Thursday in the U.S. Senate.