Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's third day of confirmation hearings and second day of questioning featured a day of intense grilling by GOP senators and a continuation of her explaining her approach as a judge, discussions of abstract legal concepts that can be pivotal in controversial Supreme Court cases, and her defense of a sentencing record that Republicans have claimed wasn't adequately harsh on certain crimes.
Here are key moments from day three of Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing:
On her “empathy” shown on the bench: Jackson explained the way she spoke to defendants as a trial judge during sentencing, as she faced Republicans who had raised concerns about the “empathy” she has shown on the bench.
“My attempts to communicate directly with defendants is about public safety, because most of the people who are incarcerated — via the federal system and even via the state system — will come out, will be a part of our communities again,” Jackson said in response to a question from Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina. “And so it is to our entire benefit, as Congress has recognized, to ensure that people who come out stop committing crimes."
On being the “the first generation” to benefit from the civil rights movement: The judge recounted the childhood of parents, who attended segregated middle and high schools in Florida, and how her upbringing was like "night and day" to theirs.
"I do consider myself, having been born in 1970, to be the first generation to benefit from the civil rights movement, from the legacy of all of the work of so many people that went into changing the laws in this country so that people like me, could have an opportunity to be sitting here before you today," she said.
On recusing herself from a lawsuit against Harvard over its affirmative action policies: Jackson told Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz that if confirmed to the Supreme Court, she plans to recuse from a lawsuit against Harvard over its affirmative action policies the justices are hearing next term.
"That is my plan, senator," Jackson said. Jackson is on the school's board of overseers.
Pushing back against GOP focusing on a “small subset” of her sentences: Jackson had a sharp response to a question from GOP Sen. Josh Hawley asking her if she regretted the three-month sentence she issued in a child porn case where prosecutors were seeking two years.
"Senator, what I regret is that in a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we've spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences," Jackson said.
Booker defends Jackson in emotional exchange: Democratic Sen. Cory Booker defended Jackson and slammed his GOP Senate colleagues for their treatment of the judge during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
At one point during his remarks, Booker became emotional, speaking to the historic nature of Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Jackson could be seen wiping away tears as Booker spoke about how powerful this moment was for the country in that she would be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court and then spoke of African Americans before her that have made history.
"You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American," he said.
Booker added, "You are my harbinger of hope. This country's getting better and better and better. And when that final vote happens, and you ascend onto the highest court in the land, I'm going to rejoice. And I'm going to tell you right now, the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, will be better because of you."
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court nomination on Monday, April 4.
See photos from the hearing here.