A useful debunking appeared this week in National Review, the conservative magazine, written by Andrew McCarthy, a former prosecutor who noted that he disagreed with Jackson on many legal matters. McCarthy also wrote that Hawley’s accusations were “meritless to the point of demagoguery” and “a smear.” Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, has pointed out that some Trump nominees had a similar record as Jackson in child-pornography cases, and that Hawley voted to confirm them.
Woke education has become another focus of the hearings, with Republicans like Cruz and Marsha Blackburn trying to portray Jackson as an advocate for it. In truth, she has not taken a position on the issues that fall under that category. Her sole — tenuous — connection to them is serving on the board of Georgetown Day School, an elite private school in Washington.
That was apparently enough for the Republican National Committee to tweet an image of her this week, with her initials — KBJ — crossed out and replaced with CRT, an abbreviation for critical race theory. (Much of the Republican criticism of Jackson probably would have applied to any nominee, regardless of race, but it is hard to imagine the same tweet about a white judge.)
The only time Jackson appears to have mentioned critical race theory publicly was in a 2015 speech. It was part of a list of disciplines that she said had an intellectual connection to criminal sentencing, including administrative law, philosophy, psychology and statistics.
A fairer critique
To be fair, Republicans are correct that many of the broader issues are legitimate matters of public debate. And on some of them, Republicans can make a credible case that progressive Democrats are to the left of public opinion (as Thomas Edsall, a Times Opinion columnist, explains).
Most Americans oppose cutting police budgets, for instance. Many believe that allowing all transgender girls to compete in girls’ sports can be unfair to other girls. Many voters — and not just white voters — think that liberals focus too much on racial identity. Most Americans feel proud of the country and its symbols, including those that some progressives consider racist, like Thanksgiving, the Constitution, the flag and George Washington.
But in trying to make Jackson a stand-in for these views, Republican senators are distorting reality. They are creating a caricature of a liberal Democrat that bears little resemblance to Jackson herself.