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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn-in during her confirmation hearing on March 21, 2022 in Washington, DCDrew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-lifers and pro-abortion activists faced off outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on Monday as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off its first day of confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The Washington Examiner reported that “[p]ro-abortion advocates carried signs that read ‘Confirm KBJ’ and ‘Reproductive Freedom For All,’” and pro-lifers held signs reading “NOT TODAY KBJ” and shouted, “Abortion harms women.”

Biden’s Supreme Court pick, a Harvard graduate and former Barack Obama-appointed U.S. Circuit Court judge for the District of Columbia, is expected to side with the Court’s liberals against future pro-life legislation if confirmed. 

Monday’s hearing began at 11 a.m. with opening statements from all 22 lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee panel.

During Judge Jackson’s opening statement, she expressed gratitude for being nominated for the role and signaled her inclination to follow in the footsteps of her consistently liberal, pro-abortion predecessor Justice Stephen Breyer.

Breyer, 83, has consistently voted with the Court’s liberals and repeatedly ruled against pro-life legislation. He announced his plans to retire earlier this year.

“Justice Breyer not only gave me the greatest job that any young lawyer could ever hope to have, but he also exemplifies what it means to be a Supreme Court Justice of the highest level of skill and integrity, civility, and grace,” said Jackson, who worked as a law clerk for Breyer earlier in her career.

“It is extremely humbling to be considered for Justice Breyer’s seat, and I know that I could never fill his shoes. But if confirmed, I would hope to carry on his spirit,” she added.

Jackson clerked for Breyer when he ruled against a pro-life Nebraska law that would have banned partial birth abortions. After being nominated by President Biden, Jackson has received the warm approval of major abortion groups, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

In a statement released February 25, Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List president Marjorie Dannenfelser explained that in addition to being “backed by many of America’s most radical pro-abortion groups,” Jackson is “on record opposing the free speech rights of pro-life advocates pleading to save lives outside abortion centers and supporting the false claim that abortion is ‘health care.’”

Students For Life Action (SFLA) president Kristan Hawkins argued in a March 10 letter to the U.S. Senate opposing Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court that Jackson “would present a unique and profound threat to the work of the Pro-Life Generation.”

Meanwhile, the opening statements made by the Senate Judiciary Committee panelists gave a preview of the contentious topics set to be covered during the questioning period beginning Tuesday.

Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein of California spoke about the abortion and environmental cases currently before the Supreme Court, saying those issues are “foundational to who we are as a country.”

“It’s important to have justices with a broad set of views and experiences on the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said. “And I believe your background and your experience will only serve to strengthen the Supreme Court.”

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who previously blasted Jackson in a lengthy Twitter thread for allegedly “letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes,” took aim at Jackson by outlining seven judicial rulings in which the circuit court judge had allegedly gone soft on individuals convicted of child pornography offenses.

“What concerns me, and I’ve been very candid about this, is that in every case, in each of these seven, Judge Jackson handed down a lenient sentence that was below what the federal guidelines recommended and below what prosecutors requested,” Hawley said. “And so I think there’s a lot to talk about there.”

“Some have asked why did I raise these questions ahead of the hearing, why not wait until the hearing and spring them on Judge Jackson, as it were, and my answer to that is very simple,” Hawley explained. “I’m not interested in trapping Judge Jackson, I’m not trying to play ‘gotcha,’ I’m interested in her answers.”

Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal pushed back against Hawley, calling the Missouri Republican’s assertions regarding leniency on child pornography offenders “unfounded in fact and indeed irresponsible.”

Broadening the scope of the issues addressed during the hearing, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee spoke about transgenderism, sexuality, and gender identity with regard to the rights of parents to decide what children are taught about those concepts in schools.

“At a time when these parental rights appear to be under assault by the radical left, your public comments about, and I’m going to quote you, ‘the transformative power of progressive education,’ these are deeply concerning,” Sen. Blackburn said.

According to Blackburn, Jackson serves “on the board of a school that teaches kindergarteners, five-year-old children, that they can choose their gender, and teaches them about so-called ‘white privilege.’”

“The American people want a Supreme Court Justice who will protect their families’ freedoms, not allow government overreach into private family decisions,” she said.

In a video statement released Sunday, Blackburn had also suggested that Jackson supports the Supreme Court’s prior ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Court determined that married couples have a “right to privacy” under which the government may not prohibit the use of contraception, paving the way for abortion legislation.

Though chosen to replace another liberal justice and therefore not likely to significantly tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, Jackson’s nomination has already been fraught with controversy.

Before naming Jackson, Biden made clear his pick would be a black woman, a decision that drew bipartisan backlash.

An ABC/Ipsos poll conducted in late January found that 76% of Americans wanted Biden to consider “all options” rather than select a nominee based predominately on considerations of race and sex.

If confirmed, Jackson would be the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. The first black man to serve on the Court was Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. The first female Supreme Court Justice was Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The confirmation hearings for Jackson are slated to continue through Thursday, March 24, with the questioning phase set to begin Tuesday.

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