GOP Senators: SCOTUS Nominee’s Unwillingness to Define ‘Woman’ Did Not ‘Do Her Any Good’

Emily Robertson | March 28, 2022 | 2:04pm EDT
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Left-wing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.  (Getty Images)
Left-wing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Getty Images)

( —When asked whether someone who doesn’t know what a woman is should serve on the Supreme Court, some GOP senators said they didn’t have an answer, while others said the judge’s response was surprising and did not do her any good.

At the Capitol on March 24, asked some GOP senators, “Senator Blackburn asked Judge Jackson to define the word ‘woman’ and Judge Jackson said, ‘No. I can’t.’ Should someone who does not know what a woman is serve on the Supreme Court?”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R- S.D.) said, “That rather surprised me. I had expected that that would, might be one answer that would be pretty straight forward. But I think maybe they’ll give her an opportunity to correct her answer. But I was surprised.”

CNS News followed up with, “Could you provide a definition of the word woman?”

“I think I could, but right now I’ve got to go to a meeting,” the senator said.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said, “I would say that if you’re not willing to come up with some opinion on that question, rather than just saying I can’t answer it because I’m not a biologist, I don’t think that did her any good. I would’ve been interested in a better response.”

CNS News followed up with, “Could you provide a definition of the word woman?”

“I’d go right to the dictionary and read it, so I think it’s the saying that most of us would refer to,” said Braun.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa) told CNS News, “I don’t think I have an answer for that. If you want to know the answer, go to the dictionary.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) said, “I was—I don’t have a comment on that. It was an odd exchange.”

On March 22 at the confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)  asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson if she could define the word woman, and she responded saying that she could not.

Sen. Blackburn: “Can you provide a definition for the word woman?”

Judge Jackson: “Can I provide a definition? No. I can’t.”

Sen. Blackburn: “You can’t?”

Judge Jackson: “Not in this context, I’m not a biologist.”

Sen. Blackburn: “Okay, so you believe the meaning of the word ‘woman’ is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?”

Judge Jackson: “Senator, in my work as a judge, what I do is I address disputes. If there is a dispute about a definition, people make arguments, and I look at the law, and I decide. So, I’m not—"

Sen. Blackburn: “Well, the fact that you can’t give me a straight answer about something as fundamental as what a woman is underscores the dangers of the kind of progressive education that we are hearing about.

“Just last week an entire generation of young girls watched as our taxpayer-funded institutions permitted a biological man to compete and beat a biological woman in the NCAA swimming championships. What message do you think this sends to girls who aspire to compete and win in sports at the highest levels?”

Judge Jackson: “Senator, I’m not sure what message that sends. If you’re asking me about the legal issues related to it, those are topics that are being hotly discussed, as you say, and could come to the court. So, I’m not able to—”

Sen. Blackburn: “And I think it tells our girls that their voices don’t matter. I think it tells them that they’re second-class citizens, and parents want to have a Supreme Court justice who is committed to preserving parental autonomy and protecting our nation’s children.” 

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