Facing GOP skepticism for not aligning herself with a specific judicial philosophy, Ketanji Brown Jackson gave new details about the way she approaches her job and the "methodology" she uses for deciding a case.
"I am acutely aware that as a judge in our system I have limited power and I am trying in every case to stay in my lane," she said.
The three-step process she described involved clearing her mind of any preconceived notions about the case, receiving the various inputs — the written briefs, the factual record, the hearings — she'll need to decide a case, and embarking on an interpretation of the law that hews to "the constraints" on her role as a judge.
She said she was trying to "to figure out what the words mean as they were intended by the people who wrote them."
This description of her methodology was not enough to satisfy Republican questions about her judicial philosophy.
But what does this term mean and why has it come up so often today? It refers to the type of framework a judge uses to analyze a case of constitutional interpretation. An originalist approach, which is favored by conservatives, seeks to interpret the Constitution by how the framers would have understood the words at the time they were drafted.
Some progressives have sought to chart what has been called a "Living Constitution" approach, which seeks to interpret the general principles in the Constitution in a way that is applicable to contemporary circumstances.
Even as she answered Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse's questions about the dueling approaches, Jackson declined to explicitly align herself with one or the other, noting that constitutional interpretation did not come up every often in the cases she was deciding as a lower court judge.