Sen. Whitehouse: 'I Think It's Pretty Clear That Judge Jackson is a Woman'

Emily Robertson | March 28, 2022 | 11:03am EDT
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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)  (Getty Images)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) (Getty Images)

(—When asked whether someone who doesn’t know what a woman is should serve on the Supreme Court, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I think it’s pretty clear that Judge Jackson is a woman. So, I don’t think she has any doubt as to what a woman is."

At the Capitol on Thursday, March 24, asked Sen. Whitehouse: “Senator Blackburn, on Tuesday during the hearing, 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?”

The senator responded: “I think it’s pretty clear that Judge Jackson is a woman. So, I don’t think she has any doubt as to what a woman is. The question was asked in the context of dealing with the law about transgender individuals.”

“In that specific context it becomes a very loaded question as to somebody who is transitioning from one gender to another, where the switch takes place. That’s a matter to be litigated,” added the senator.

“But I think she was very appropriately steering clear of the litigation side of that question, which courts are facing everywhere right now,” Whitehouse said.  

On Tuesday at the confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)  asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom President Joe Biden has nominated to the Supreme Court, if she could define the word woman. She responded by 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?”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)  (Getty Images)
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) (Getty Images)

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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