The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for federal judge Kentanji Brown Jackson took place over the course of three days last week, and are now over. The hearings were, as has become the norm with the public part of these SCOTUS nominations, a mix of political grandstanding and a grand jury-like job interview for the sake of informing (entertaining?) the public about Jackson’s resume. After all, all of Jackson's writings, rulings, and associations are a matter of public record and she has already been vetted by the FBI when she was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court.
Nevertheless, aside from the usual partisan wrangling over Jackson’s more controversial rulings, there was one incident during the three days of hearings that stood out among all the other. As you’re probably guessing, I am referring to the moment when Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked Jackson if she could provide a definition for the word “woman.” To which Jackson replied, “No I can’t” because as she continued, “I’m not a biologist.”
In the midst of our current political and cultural fight-geist, this statement became the fodder for numerous hilarious memes and was the impetus for the corporate media to once again to jump to their self-appointed role as the ministry of truth. USA Today came to Jackson’s defense by assuring us that the proper authorities on the matter such as, “Scientists, gender law scholars and philosophers of biology” would support Jackson's answer because “a competent biologist would not be able to offer a definitive answer either. Scientists agree there is no sufficient way to clearly define what makes someone a woman.”
However, despite the levity and drama-rama created by Jackson's refusal to define the term “woman”, her response has serious implications about her future on the Supreme Court and for our nation in at least three key ways.
1. It Reveals her Incompetence for her Role as a Judge
To be fair, Sen. Blackburn’s question certainly could’ve been presented better, but nonetheless it is the kind of loaded question that we have all become accustomed to any time our elected officials get in front of a camera. So in this respect Jackson's refusal to answer the question is understandable. Secondly, calling her intelligence into question for not answering the question is also unfair. She obviously knows the answer that Blackburn is looking for, but chose to address the issue according to her progressive alt-left beliefs about gender.
Of course, she could’ve just answered with some bland stock definition or even take the initiative and use the same kind of wit and erudition Amy Coney Barrett used when an overconfident Amy Kloubachar failed trap Barrett about whether Roe vs. Wade was a super-precedent case. However, in Jackson's case, in answering the way she did, she not only revealed as Tulsi Gabbard Tweeted, “The hypocrisy and absurdity” of her nomination “in large part because she is a woman” but a glaring incompetence in doing the one thing any lawyer, judge, or law maker worth their salt is supposed to do: define their terms.
If she is unwilling to define a basic term such as “woman” either in a legal sense or in ordinary usage, then how is she supposed to rule on cases or laws that deal with specific sexes such as trans-athletes, abortion, Title IX, or medical care (like sex reassignment surgery)? For her to admit that she won't make such distinctions means she will rule on cases according to some other metric, i.e. her ideology.
2. It's Reinforces the Negative View Much of the World has of Us
When it came to Trump, for all his faults and braggadocio, you could consistently say that what you saw was what you got. However, when it comes to Jackson, the incongruity between what she said at the hearings and her past job performance is indicative of the dysfunction we’ve seen in this administration’s first year, where we have seen,
a. A president who is a gaff-machine and is in obvious cognitive decline.
b. A VP who (like Jackson) is an affirmative action pick, is out of her depth and is a faux pas machine who cackles at inappropriate times.
c. Congress members whinge poetically for the cameras about their trauma and anxieties over the J6 riots, as if this somehow makes them good leaders.
d. Recruitment videos from the Army that equate fighting for LGBT rights with actual combat or from the CIA that showcase agents who have “generalized anxiety disorder.”
And now we have a confirmation hearing for our nation’s highest court, and there for the entire world to see Jackson will not answer what is, to those who live outside of elite echo chambers, a simple question. Jackson’s refusal to define her terms reinforces the idea held by much of the traditional-minded or patriarchal world (often belligerently so), that America is a weak and decadent society in clear decline. A society that is often loathed by that same world for foisting the kind of progressive ideals held by Jackson onto the rest of the world; what Nigerian activist and scientist Obianuju Ekeocha calls “ideological neo-colonialism.”
3. It Exacerbates the Disdain Americans have for their Government
Finally Jackson’s performance, as well as that of her supporters like Sen. Cory “God’s got you” Booker, reinforces the idea among a rapidly growing number of Americans (on all sides of the aisle) that our elected officials are a bunch entitled and out of touch Hunger Games “Capital City” types. They are seen as elected officials that pursue positions of power for their own ambitions and operate according to practices and principles that are far removed from the daily lives of most Americans and which are often viewed as (to paraphrase George Orwell) so stupid yo have to be highly educated to believe them.
In fact, her rejoinder to refusing to define what a woman is, “I’m not a biologist” is not sign of her humility but of her disdain for anyone who would ask such a question, to which she feels no obligation to condescend to addressing the question. And in one of those odd “history rhymes” moments, her refusal to define what a woman is brought to mind the irrational and intolerant Know-Nothing Party that existed before the Civil War, who when asked about their party platform by outsiders, they simply answered, "I know nothing." In this way, her ideological bafflegab about gender or other issues are meant as a purity test or a "whistle" of some sort that reveals that she is one of the elites and you are not.
And thus, when all is said and done, her actions are yet another example of the ongoing unspoken agreement we have about public dishonesty in our elected officials. So that in a modern variation of the old Soviet trope about pretending to work and getting paid, we pretend to nominate and elect these people and they pretend to govern or care about us.
How Many Lights Do You See?
In an episode of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation called “The Chain of Command part 2”, Captain Picard is captured by the Federation’s enemies, the Cardassians. He is tortured by them over a period of time as they attempt to break his will by shinning four lights on him but demanding that he admits that there are five lights. Picard never gives in, and right before he is freed, even in his tortured state, he yells back at his torturers, “I see four lights!”
Barring any shocking revelation about her, Kentanji Brown Jackson will be appointed to the Supreme Court. And while it might be tempting to write her off as just a replacement for former Justice Stephen Breyer that won't affect the makeup of the Court, the fact is that her appointment is not an even trade. Jackson represents a generational shift from Breyer and is in fact a “Trojan Horse” for a whole host of alt-left ideas that will now be further inserted into our culture or be given a federal stamp of approval via our nation’s highest court.
Her appointment will in very short order, place even greater stress on our culture’s ideological fault lines that are already rapidly approaching quake mode. You will no longer be able to ignore these cultural issues, and you will in essence be asked to admit to seeing five lights or multiple genders or deny the humanity of the unborn or that free speech is not really free. Refusing to do so, will prove difficult but in the end the future of our Constitutional Republic will not belong to those who for the sake of a peaceful life or just plain cowardice will admit to seeing five lights, but to those who remain steadfast in faith and fortitude and are willing to shout back “I see four lights!”