WATCH: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on what helped her ‘persevere’ as a Black student at Harvard
Dutch Jackson. I am so glad they take some pride. In sharing your family's story. As you should. I know I take pride in sharing mind. My colleagues have heard it, but I never get tired of reminding folks that I am the proud son of immigrants. My parents came to United States from Mexico decades
ago. And through their hard work and determination. They raised three of us, My sister, My brother and I. We all attended and graduated from college and we have all found successful careers in public service. Now it's a story that is shared by hard working immigrant families across the country.
And over the course of generations, families who were diligently each day to create a better life and to contribute to the country. Weather tests. Farmworkers, short order cooks, celebrity chefs, software engineers or tech CEO says school custodians, teachers, principals, whether they're documented or undocumented.
People who migrate to this country seeking asylum. Seeking refuge or a shot at the American dream. All deserve to be treated. With dignity. And humanity.
Now, unfortunately, our laws and our courts Don't always do that. Beyond are often cruel and counterproductive choices that we've made over the years when it comes to immigration policy. The language that we use to speak about immigrants, Kenan often have the humanizing effects.
For example. In the Immigration and Nationality Act. It's replete with references to quote unquote aliens.
And court opinions written by federal judges across the country can be found referring to undocumented persons as quote illegal aliens. Now I know NASA has put a man on the moon and there are billionaires increasingly exploring space. But let's be clear. No person is an alien. And no human being can be illegal. So with that context I read your immigration related decisions are the district court with great interest. Now beyond the substance of your opinions.
Which what stood out to me is that you seem to have tried to avoid making the same choice as many of your predecessors and many of your colleagues. When that quoting statutes or precedent. Your appearance. Your opinions appear not to refer to immigrants has alien or illegal.
Instead used Terms such as undocumented. And non citizen. I imagine I hope that was a conscious choice.
The language we use and the language our courts used to describe people. Whether immigrants The formerly incarcerated Individuals who identify as LGBT Q or other historically marginalized people really matters a great deal our language matters. It's exactly for that reason that six years ago, Congress passed a bill to remove derogatory and offensive references to Black Americans, Asian Americans and native Americans from the U. S code. And it's my last year, President Biden ordered the Customs and Border Protection Agency and ice to stop referring to migrants as illegal immigrants.
With all that's it. Judge Jackson. Do you agree that the language we used to describe one another and the language used by the bench matters.
Thank you, Senator. Um As I mentioned earlier in this hearing. Judges are the only branch of government who are required to Right our opinions to explain, uh, our decisions and, um I have Long believed in that capacity that our, um Clarity. And language matters were explaining the law to people and, um people read and understand what the law is what the rule of law is in this country. Through the opinions of Judges. So they do matter Language.
Thank you. Now I want to discuss with you an issue of law and technology. An issue previously raised by Senator Rostov earlier today, and I'm excited to talk to you, Um About this topic. It just hasn't aside. Um any day that an MIT engineering question of Harvard lawyer It's a good day. Mhm. So thank you for indulging. Um, But as you know, the Supreme Court only hears a tiny fraction of all federal appeals.
That means that the cases that get to the Supreme Court are typically either new questions of law or very difficult questions of law, and I think the intersection of law and technology Is one where many cases are both new and difficult. Over the set over the course of human history. Innovation has constantly disrupted our culture. And our norms and for the most part with good intentions, But societal benefits have not always been the result of innovation. Innovations have challenged us to respond with new means of safeguarding basic rights, whether in the context of privacy security. Competition.
Employment just to name a few. And I appreciate that The speed of innovation will always challenge our ability to keep the law up to date with new technologies and their impact. Have grappled with this question as a City council member as a state senator, as the secretary of state and now as United States, senator But clearly it's also a challenge for the courts, which often have to decide cases during that period between technological progress and the enactment of new laws that seek to account For that progress. A new technology alone has given rise to a number of fundamental questions of law. As you mentioned yesterday and earlier Including how the Fourth Amendment applies to new context that no founder Could have ever contemplated. And likewise, the court has to grapple with questions like how copyright law applies to computer code.
And in the coming years, new technologies will present new questions not just in the context of the Fourth Amendment. But in areas of communications Energy, transportation, health care and many others. So if you can take just a minute judge to discuss the challenges that courts at every level face in addressing cases involving new and emerging technologies and How you as a Supreme Court justice would begin to prepare for these types of cases.
Thank you, Senator. Um The court does. Get cases that involved disputes that touch on technological innovation and whether it is something like copyright. The kind of case or a patent kind of case or, um, the Fourth Amendment search and seizure.
New technologies do intersect with what? Um, what the law says. In the constitution and in statutes and least as far as statutes are concerned. It's certainly much easier for judges who are doing their duty to interpret the law if Congress makes changes that update the statutes to track Um, the modern innovations. What happens with constitutional interpretation is similar to what I described earlier about cases in which the court Ah, Analogize is back to the time of the founding concerning the principles in something like search and seizure. What qualified as a search That violated the constitution when those words were written. And then determines whether that same kind of violation is that issue with respect to the top technology today.
And the court has done that with respect to searches regarding cell phones. Um Police access to GPS data. Um, tracking technology that is put on, um vehicles. Because these disputes do come up.
And so, um So I'll take this opportunity to encourage Congress to help us, um by um, ensuring that new technologies are addressed. In statutes. Uh, That we interpret you're absolutely right. Both judges and members of Congress are never done doing more homework and learning, hopefully Ah! Judge on Monday which at this point feels like so long ago, I suggested in my opening statement that by the end of these hearings, America would know just how qualified you are to serve on the Supreme Court. And over the course of this hearing. I think the American people
have seen that And having gotten to know you as a person. They have heard your family's journey. And everything that your nomination Represents. I also said on Monday that your qualifications bear repeating over and over again and so, judge with your help. I'd like to remind the committee and the American people once again.
Just some Of your incredible Credentials. Yes or no. After law school did you serve as a law clerk for a district court? Judge Court of Appeals judge and a Supreme Court justice. I did Senator Yes or no? Did you practice law for more than 10 years before becoming a judge? Yes, Senator.
And did that include time in private practice and time as a federal public defender. It did. How many years have you served as a federal District Court judge? I served as the federal District Court judge for I believe 8.5 years and circuit since then, circuit since last June, and as a district court judge, approximately how many Opinions. Did you right? I think we've covered this before. Adds a district court judge. I believe I
Wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 560, with very low rate of Having been reversed. Five done my homework correctly. Look, I can go on and on And don't worry, Mr Chairman. I won't But Judge Jackson for two days. Here's what I've seen.
I've seen a number of my colleagues trying to engage with you in good faith on questions about the law, and you've entered them fully. Fairly and thoughtfully in every instance. You've shown yourself. To have the came intellect and legal acumen. To serve on the Supreme Court.
Now you've also sat here and politely listened. Some of my colleagues have attempted to disparage your judgment and character based on allegations that even as Senator Booker pointed out, Conservative commentators have called meritless to the point of demagoguery. And through that you've shown clear that you have the temperament to serve on the Supreme Court.
Now, this confirmation hearing has been a reminder. And in some ways a new exhibit a That For people of color. Particularly those who have the audacity. To try to be the first Often have to work twice as hard. To get half the respect. Judge Jackson. I offer that with your talent and exemplary qualifications
on full display if my colleagues truly believed in maintaining the legitimacy of the Supreme Court If they really care about Americans, faith in the judicial system. They will see that even if they may disagree with you On a particular area of the law. But you're exactly the type of judge That should serve on the Supreme Court. You're exactly the type of
judge that should receive bi partisan support, not just from this committee but from the full Senate. And if any senator doesn't that I hope they'll think long and hard about what it says to the country. About the politicization politicization of the Supreme Court. That if someone is Emily qualified as Judge Jackson in all the ways that we've been discussing Cannot receive bipartisan support.
Judge, and there's just a couple minutes left. And I'd like to ask you just one last question. Last Friday. In my preparation for these hearings. I took the opportunity to spend some time with a group of students at South San Francisco High School. I went there to speak with them about this historic Supreme Court nomination.
And to speak. With them about you. We had a great conversation about how the court's decisions affect the everyday lives of Americans. And about the past and the future of the Supreme Court. But if that was speaking with the students I couldn't help but be reminded.
Of my own high school experience. When one of my teachers Discouraged me. From applying to MIT. Because they didn't want me to be disappointed.
I turned that discouragement into motivation. Judge Jackson. I know that you two have been doubted. On your way. To the seat that you find yourself in today. Even over the last three days of this hearing, your experience and qualifications have been called into question by some Despite your clear, lengthy record of talent, achievement and accomplishment. So I want to end my time today by asking you this question.
On behalf of the young people I visited with last Friday. In South San Francisco. And for the many others across the country. Who are watching This confirmation hearing today. What would you say? Judge Jackson To all those young Americans, the most diverse generation in our nation's history. What do you say
to some of them? Who may doubt that they can one day achieve? The same great heights that you have. Thank you, Senator. Um That was very moving. And I appreciate The opportunity to, uh Speak to young people.
I appreciate it very much. I do it a lot. For the reasons that you have articulated I, um I hope to inspire people. To try to follow. Um This path because I love this country.
Because I love the law. Because I think it is important. That we all invest In our future. And the young people are the future and so I want them to know that they can Do and be anything and I'll just say that, um I will tell them What Ah, an anonymous person said to me once I was walking through Harvard Yard my freshman year. As I mentioned, I went to public school and I didn't know anything about Harvard until um, my debate coach.
Took me there to enter a speech competition, and I thought this is a great university. It was basically one of the only ones I'd seen. And I said, maybe I'll apply when I'm a senior. But I get there and whoa so different. I'm from Miami, Florida. Boston is very cold. It was Um It was rough. It was different from anything I'd known. There were lots of Students there who were, um prep school kids like my husband, Um, who knew all about? Knew all about Harvard, and that was not not me, and I think the first semester I was really homesick. I was really questioning.
Um Do I belong here? Can I Kind of make it in this environment, and I was walking through the yard in the evening. And a black woman I did not know. Was passing me on the sidewalk and she looked at me and I guess she knew how I was feeling. And she leaned over as we crossed and said Persevere. I would tell them to persevere. Thank you to shocks and you don't have to hope I'll tell you right now. You do.
Inspire. You. Are an inspiration.
And I will associate myself with the Closing words of my colleague and my brother, Senator Booker. That I to refuse to let anyone Steal my joy.