(The Hill) – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has repeatedly pressed Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, about critical race theory and whether it might influence his work as a judge during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
During the most dramatic part of the interrogation, Cruz picked out a book called “Antiracist Baby”, which argues that babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist and that there is no such thing as neutrality.
The Texas senator said the book was taught to children aged four to seven at Georgetown Day School in Washington, where Jackson is a board member.
While showing enlarged pages of the book’s illustrations on billboards behind him, Cruz, a former GOP presidential candidate who could run again in 2024, emphasized Jackson’s association with the day school. of Georgetown, which he says has an “overflowing” schedule. with critical race theory.
He said the “superb” book was taught at school and asked Jackson if she was okay “with this book being taught to kids that the baby is racist?”
Jackson, who had been taking notes as Cruz spoke, paused for a long time before responding as Cruz took a drink from a plastic soda bottle on the cable television split screen.
“Senator,” Jackson said, “I don’t believe a child should feel like he’s racist or that he’s not valued or that he’s inferior to his victims, that he’s an oppressor. I don’t believe in any of that.”
Jackson explained that the Georgetown Day School has a “peculiar history” as a private school founded by three white families and three black families at a time when racial segregation was enforced by law in the nation’s capital.
She said equality and justice are “at the heart” of the school’s mission.
She said she didn’t know if Critical Race Theory was taught at the Georgetown Day School because the board didn’t control the curriculum or focus on it.
The Georgetown Day School was only part of Cruz’s emphasis on critical race theory.
Cruz also asked Jackson about his views on the controversial New York Times Project 1619, which recast the founding of the nation as the year enslaved Africans first arrived in the colonies.
He asked if she agreed with New York Times Magazine editor Nikole Hannah-Jones that one of the main reasons the settlers declared independence from Britain was preserve the institution of slavery.
Jackson responded that this revisionist theory of history is “provocative” and “not something I studied” and “it doesn’t come up in my work”.
She said she discussed the 1619 Project at the University of Michigan when the school asked her to speak on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because it was a subject of intellectual debate familiar to students. .
Cruz then asked if she was aware that the 1619 Project had been criticized by prominent scholars such as Gordon Wood of Brown University and James McPherson of Princeton University.
“I wasn’t,” she replied.
Cruz asked Jackson to explain to the almost all-white Judiciary Committee “what do you think critical race theory means?” There is a black panel member, Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.), who is one of three black members of the Senate.
She defined it as “an academic theory of how race interacts with various institutions.”
“It does not come out of my work as a judge. It’s never something that I studied or leaned on and it wouldn’t be something I would lean on if I was on the Supreme Court,” she said.
The White House said Cruz should have dropped that line of questioning after his initial stabbings at the question.
“And never had an impact on his work as a judge. Asked and answered. Then,” White House adviser Ben LaBolt tweeted.
But Cruz continued, noting that critical race theory came from university critical studies programs and, in particular, from professors of critical legal studies at Harvard Law School, where he and Jackson had studied, “who are explicitly Marxists”.
“Critical race theory presents all of society as a fundamental and insoluble battle between races,” Cruz explained. “He sees every conflict as a racial conflict.
“Do you think that’s a fair way to view society?” He asked.
Jackson replied, “Senator, I don’t believe so. But I never studied critical race theory and I never used it. It doesn’t show up in the work I do as a judge.
Cruz said he found this “a curious statement” because she gave a speech at the University of Chicago in April 2015 in which she said legal work on sentencing was interesting because it “merges various types of law” and critical race theory.
“You described in a speech to a law school what you were doing as critical race theory,” he said. “So I guess I would ask, what did you mean by that when you gave that speech?”
Jackson said the quote Cruz displayed on a large orange sign in the courtroom “was about sentencing policy” and not his own sentencing decisions.
Cruz chimed in by pointing out that she was the vice president of the US Sentencing Commission and again asked “what did you mean by what you were doing with critical race theory?”
She said the quote Cruz chose didn’t show the entire “laundry list” of academic disciplines that she says relate to sentencing politics.