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Always in Search of Compromise, Judge Jackson is a Symbol for American Politics

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There is no doubt that the most recent Supreme Court appointment carved a landmark in American history as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to earn a seat in the highest court. She has proven herself to be highly qualified, despite the GOP’s aggressive quest to criticize her credentials and paint her judicial philosophy as unsuitable. She will remain in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. until Justice Stephen Breyer retires at the start of the summer. 

The people of the United States could learn a thing or two from Judge Jackson’s hearings alone. Given the amount of interrogation imposed upon her by the GOP, she endured one of the most laborious confirmation hearings to date. Yet, throughout each and every relentless interrogation, Judge Jackson remained poised and professional. 

If there are any lessons to be learned, it is that the loudest in the room often have the least to say.

In a country that grows more and more polarizing each and every day, Judge Jackson is a breath of fresh air. Many would consider a calm, reserved individual to be “the weak one” in a cutthroat, ambitious world — even more so within the political jungle — but her nature alone breaks barriers to this stereotype. Judge Jackson is a symbol of quiet strength. In the face of Sen. Ted Cruz’s questioning about whether or not she supported critical race theory being taught in schools, she took one, long pause. No uproar, no temper. Even after being confronted with a question as atrocious as “do you agree… that babies are racist?”

“Senator,” Judge Jackson pauses, sighs, and composes an answer; “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or though they are not valued…”

This is unique in today’s politics. Politicians like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump earn praise for their outbursts and offensive rhetoric. To many, specifically the Republican party, they are symbols of strength, even as partisanship in the nation grows. Judge Jackson revives the sense of etiquette that has been lacking in American politics for a while.

Friends closest to Judge Jackson note that she was never afraid of the “middle ground.” Instead, she uses this gray area to her advantage. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has the magical ability to listen. To understand that compromise, regardless of its sacrifices, can have the most effective results. She picks her battles. In a world where Black Americans face disadvantage, disparity and injustice time and time again, she understands the importance of hard work in the face of adversity.

Whether through silent marching, letters confronting racist journalists or protesting against a Harvard student displaying a Confederate flag on their dorm window, Judge Jackson understands the beauty behind quiet strength, the fine line between the black and white areas of the world. She never lost focus. Even amongst the injustice, she remained focused on her studies and on the end goal.

For Judge Jackson, it was “to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment.”

Of course, she proceeds to do just that. She takes care to bring this philosophy of compromise with her as she journeys through her law career. During her time in the legal field, she briefed cases for liberal and conservative organizations alike.

Members of the GOP fear that Judge Jackson’s confirmation into the Supreme Court will mean that she would be “soft” on challenging issues. Senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are prime examples of this. But even conservative journals like the National Review are aware that the arguments made by the Republican party lack any crucial substance.  

As the partisanship in this country increases, the idea of a Supreme Court Justice willing to compromise on serious issues does not sound unappealing. The ability to work with both sides of the political spectrum is a skill that should be treasured rather than ridiculed. In fact, Judge Jackson might be the very element to bring this country closer together. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a symbol of not only what American politics, but society could be: an entity of compromise, poise and the willingness to understand. She demonstrates how to lead by example, how even the slightest of movements can make a wave of an impact, and how simply working together creates progress.

To start, all we need to do is listen.

Jean Bootan is an Opinion Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at jbootan@uci.edu.