John Heilemann talks with Neal Katyal and Robin Lenhardt, two of the sharpest legal minds of their generation, about the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Both are longtime friends of Judge Jackson, with whom they share a formative bond as members of the elite club of former clerks to retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat KBJ is all but certain to fill. Heilemann, Katyal, and Lenhardt discuss Jackson’s historic status as the first Black woman ever chosen to sit on the high court; how the culture-war preening of a handful of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee turned the proceedings into something more venal and ugly than mere Kabuki; and the degree to which the hearings will further undermine public confidence in the court’s distance from petty partisanship and naked ideological warfare. They also reflect on Justice Breyer’s legacy and whether Jackson will take up his mantle as a consensus-builder on a sharply divided court.
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