Feeling Booker’s Joy
Terry H. Schwadron
March 31, 2022
Even after the end of the confirmation hearings for Judge Katangi Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, there are continuing ripples from stirring remarks in celebration of the moment from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Booker was exuberant — maybe even over-the-top emotion — in his personal joy in thinking about this being a moment of breakthrough as another racial and identity ceiling cracks. In his remarks, meant to counter questioning that seemed burned by racism and sexism, Booker made clear that this is a moment for the Black community — including Republican Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is Black — to savor.
“Your family and you speak to service, service, service. And I’m telling you right now, I’m not letting anybody in the Senate steal my joy . . . I just look at you, and I start getting full of emotion,” Booker intoned. He added that an African American woman, a stranger, “practically tackled” him while he was jogging just that morning to explain how much it meant to her to see Jackson sitting in the witness chair.
“And you did not get there because of some left-wing agenda,” Booker said. “You didn’t get here because of some ‘dark money’ groups. You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere has done. By being, like Ginger Rogers said, ‘I did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in heels.’ And so, I’m just sitting here saying nobody’s stealing my joy. Nobody is going to make me angry.”
He told Judge Jackson not to worry about Republican attacks “because you’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”
Booker said that Senator Scott, who is at opposite end of the ideological spectrum, had given “the best speech on race” and would share in this particular historical moment.
So, the hearings are over, and it’s time to check Senator Scott’s position.
Nope, no suggestion of him recognizing some historical breakthrough anywhere, though it appears that the votes will be enough for confirmation. Officially Scott has taken no position, but he did tell Fox News thatRepublicans were focused on the “judicial philosophy” and not on race and gender. “This is not Biden’s Supreme Court. This is not the progressive Supreme Court. This is America’s Supreme Court,” he said.
Only Republican Susan Collins of Maine seems in, with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and possibly the retiring Richard Burr of North Carolina said to be considering a vote for the nominee.
We oddly keep seeing over and over in Republican politics, which has stood for individual achievement over government policy, that too often there is little regard for actual individual achievement — if it involves dissent from the uniformity of a majority culture whether involving race, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status. Somehow, the fears of losing an “American” identity are being tied up recognizing just how difficult our society can make it. It was the force behind Republican questions of the judge, for example, to press against the idea of using the Constitution in any way “to create” new, unwritten rights — a concept at odds with the Bill of Rights itself or any number of decisions expanding the right to vote to women or overturning racial restrictions in the law.
Booker’s enthusiasm for this appointment may seem overly strident. But he backs up his feeling with a vote to write a new chapter of racial and gender history. Perhaps Scott finds some personal satisfaction in Judge Jackson’s nomination but will oppose it.
Just saying. There’s history, there are qualifications, and then there is partisanship.
Even with the first Republican support in a split Senate split , the eventual deciding vote might could come from Vice President Kamala Harris, who is Black and does share Booker’s joy.