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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Ketanji Brown Jackson Handed Ted Cruz His Ass Today

The Texas Senator tried to paint the Supreme Court nominee as a devotee of critical race theory, and Jackson ethered him.

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Senator Ted Cruz
Photo: Left: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, Right: Win McNamee/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Texas Senator Ted “Do You Know Who I Am?” Cruz brought posters and, apparently, a permanent clown mask to the second day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Cruz was intent to tie Jackson to critical race theory, the current conservative bogeyman, which is actually a legal theory taught in law school, and he intended to do it by having her answer for the concepts outlined in...Ibram Kendi’s book Anti-Racist Baby. To take a step back, Jackson serves on the board of Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., and Cruz took time out of his 30-minute questioning period to interrogate Jackson about the school’s reading list for lack of anything else he could find to discredit the extremely qualified nominee.

The Senator said the school’s curriculum is “filled and overflowing with critical race theory,” and he was particularly disturbed by the children’s book. “There are portions of this book that I find really quite remarkable. One portion of the book says babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist, there is no neutrality. Another portion of the book they recommend that babies confess when being racist. This is a book that is taught in Georgetown Day School to students in pre- K through second grade, four through seven years old,” Cruz said, asking, “Do you agree with this book that’s being taught to kids that babies are racist?”

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“Senator,” Jackson said, sighing and pausing, before continuing, “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they’re racist or though they are not valued or though they are less than, that they’re victims, that they are oppressors—I don’t believe in any of that. But I will say is that when you asked me whether or not this was taught in schools, critical race theory...my understanding is that critical race theory as an academic theory is taught in law schools. And to the extent that you were asking the question, I understood you to be addressing public schools. Georgetown Day School, just like the religious school that Justice Barrett was on the board of, is a private school.

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Cruz then pressed Jackson further, assuming the form of Regina George before asking, “So you agree: Critical race theory is taught at Georgetown Day School?”

“I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas,” Jackson said. “They don’t come up in my work as a judge, which I’m respectfully here to address.”

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It’s all the more galling that Cruz asked Jackson if she thinks babies are racist after Jackson shared the history of the school. Immediately before he presented his posters from Anti-Racist Baby, Cruz asked Jackson to explain what she meant in a prior statement about the school’s dedication to social justice. Judge Jackson responded:

“Thank you, Senator, for allowing me to address this issue. Georgetown Day School has a special history that I think is important to understand when you consider my service on that board. The school was founded in 1945 in Washington, DC, at a time in which, by law, there was racial segregation in this community. Black students were not allowed, in the public schools, to go to school with white students. Georgetown Day School is a private school that was created when three white families—Jewish families—got together with three black families and said that, despite the fact that the law requires us to separate, despite the fact that the law is set up to make sure that black children are not treated the same as everyone else, we are going to form a private school so that our children can go to school together. The idea of equality, justice is at the core of the Georgetown Day School mission. And it’s a private school such that every parent who joins the community does so willingly, with an understanding that they are 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.”

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It was after this moving statement that Cruz basically asked her, babies...racist?

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I’m a white woman, so I can’t even begin to imagine the number of times in Judge Jackson’s career—let alone in her life—that she’s had to take a second, sigh, and collect herself before explaining why she’s right. Black women don’t have the luxury of crying and screaming and raging at Senate hearings the way, say, Brett Kavanaugh did during his. There’s a different set of rules for women of color, and Jackson managed to abide by those rules while making an absolute fool out of Cruz.