AOC mocks Lindsey Graham over Ketanji Brown Jackson questions

‘On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?’

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 22 March 2022 22:38 GMT
Lindsey Graham questions US Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham drew widespread criticism for opening his questions to US Supreme Court justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson by asking about her faith, including whether she can “fairly judge a Catholic” and requesting her to rate the importance of her faith “on a scale of one to 10”.

His remarks, which often cut off Judge Jackson from responding, appeared to suggest that conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated to the high court by Donald Trump, was unfairly treated by his political opponents during her confirmation hearings.

“What faith are you, by the way?” he asked on 22 March. “Could you fairly judge a Catholic? … I’m just asking this question because – how important is your faith to you?”

“Senator, personally, my faith is very important, but as you know, there’s no religious test in the Constitution,” Judge Jackson responded.

He continued to interrupt her responses while the senator asked more probing questions, including whether she attends church regularly and “on a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?”

“How would you feel if somebody up here on our side said, ‘You know, you attend too much church for me, or your faith is a little bit different to me’, and they would suggest that it would affect your decision?” Senator Graham added. “The reason I ask these questions is, I have no doubt that your faith is important to you and you can adjudicate these cases fairly if you were an atheist.”

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sharing footage of the interaction on Twitter, added “when you’re far more qualified than the person determining your qualifications”.

A statement from Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline slammed the senator’s line of questioning, stressing that “there is no religious test for office in the Constitution – a fact that Judge Jackson rightly pointed out in response to Senator Graham’s questions about her faith.”

“While senators can ask how a nominee’s religious beliefs would influence their rulings, using faithfulness as a metric to evaluate a future Supreme Court justice is completely inappropriate,” he said.

Following his questions on the second day of confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Graham appeared to abruptly leave after raging against prominent liberal groups that have supported Judge Jackson over Michelle Childs, another judge who was in consideration for the nomination. She has been nominated to fill the District of Columbia Circuit Court seat that Judge Jackson will vacate if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Senator Graham claimed “a lot of people from the left” sought to “destroy” Judge Childs and asked whether Judge Jackson was aware of a “concerted effort to disqualify” her.

“All I can say is the fact that so many of these left-wing radical groups, that would destroy the law as we know it, declared war on Michelle Childs and supported you is problematic for me,” he said.

Critics on social media mocked Senator Graham over his responses during a first round of questioning on Tuesday.

Scott Dworkin of the Democratic Coalition wrote on Twitter that “Lindsey Graham threw a tantrum and walked out of Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court hearing, because FAKE DRAMA”.

Mr Graham’s Democratic opponent in the 2020 Senate election, Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison, said he was “embarrassed for [South Carolina] for the immature high school dramatic theatrics that we continue to see in Supreme Court hearings.”

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