Whenever a Supreme Court Justice leaves the bench, the incoming one has to go through quite a strange process. First, the President must nominate them to the bench, and then they have to sit through long and sometimes arduous Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

This is all before the politicians even get together to vote!

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In late February, Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he would be retiring from the bench. Not too long after, President Joe Biden officially nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The newest nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School.

As a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley had to prepare an opening statement at the Judge's confirmation hearing. In his prepared statement that he gave on March 21st, 2022, the Iowa politician said,

"We depend on judges to interpret the laws as we write them. If judges impose their own policy preferences from the bench and essentially revise the laws we pass, it makes it harder for us to write good laws. Sometimes, we need to include a provision that is very broad to get a colleague’s support. If a judge re-writes the law later because of vague notions about fairness or equity or the common good, that unravels all of our work.

More importantly, the American people should be able to read a law and know what it means. They shouldn’t have to ask how a federal judge who disagrees with the law could re-interpret the words on the page.

This is why we must carefully examine federal judges’ records, especially Supreme Court nominees."

The Senator is alluding to the fundamental differences between the two main judicial philosophies, both have to do with the interpretation of the Constitution...

Living document vs. original intent

Grassley generally agrees with the idea of original intent, which according to the Constitution Center means,  "that the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law."

The term "living constitution" refers to the idea that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that's interpretation changes over time.

When asked about her own judicial philosophy Judge Brown said,

"Courts must apply established constitutional principles to new circumstances, but the meaning of the Constitution itself is fixed and does not change or evolve."

Some voters are taking issue with the treatment of Judge Brown during these hearings. One Iowa man even shared this frustration with Senator Chuck Grassley in a town hall recently. This individual did not like the way some of Grassley's Republican peers approached the hearing.

"They just beat her up really bad," the Republican voter said to Grassley.

"...the main thing they did this for is so they can get T.V. time!"

The politician took a moment to collect himself before responding.

"I'm not going to dispute what you said because I think you described it accurately but you know that doesn't apply to me," the seasoned Senator started to respond.

This Iowa voter then interrupted the politician,

"Excuse me, Senator! You are the head of the Senate, you're the oldest person there; you've been there 50 years," the man said.

"I mean it's unbelievable what you've done for Iowa in the past! I have voted for you in the past. Now it's getting to the time where I think you're not for the people, you're more for the party...and that's my opinion."

To watch the full exchange you can check out the video down below!

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