I’m not a biologist – The American Conservative
Pay attention to the questions Ketanji Brown Jackson can’t answer.
While being questioned by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 23, 2022. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)
I’m not a biologist. I’m not a lawyer either. I’m not an idiot either. If you ask me what a woman is, I think I can put together a decent answer. Anyone who says they can’t is either very stupid or lying to you. Like Ketanji Brown Jackson, the dual Harvard law graduate who is running as Joe Biden’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, Marsha Blackburn, the senior US Senator from Tennessee, asked Judge Jackson a simple question: “Can you give a definition of the word ‘woman’?” Jackson, al magna cum laude Harvard College graduate and occasional senior editor of Harvard Law Review replied: “I can Offer a definition? no. I can not. Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.” The judge frowned in equal parts annoyed and genuinely confused.
Dan McLaughlin, a right-wing attorney and senior author National Review, argued Wednesday that Jackson’s responses before the Senate indicate the late Judge Antonin Scalia’s originalism has triumphed. “Even if she is given the widest possible public arena to debate the proper interpretation of the Constitution,” McLaughlin wrote, “neither Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson nor her Democratic supporters could do better than agree with Justice Scalia.”
I do not share Scalia’s legal philosophy. Still, I suspect the late Judge – whose official SCOTUS portrait shows him holding his hand on a copy Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged (1934), sitting on a portrait of Thomas More – could have provided a definition of “woman” if asked. (Maybe from Webster’s: “An adult female person; an adult female, as distinguished from a man or a child; sometimes any female person.”)
How does a court or a country function when its lawyers feel they should rely on life science experts to define basic English words? Laws cannot be interpreted in a vacuum. One of the most fundamental inputs to sound jurisprudence is a working knowledge of what words mean. When a Supreme Court candidate really doesn’t know what a woman is, we’re in trouble.
But the word is admittedly more loaded than most. If Ketanji Brown Jackson doesn’t know the answer to Senator Blackburn’s question, then half the people of this country don’t either. The left’s strategy on any social issue has been to invent and then expand a moral gray area so that even (or especially) those with advanced degrees from elite universities are unable to tell a woman from a child or a man. When you engage in the “I’m not a biologist” copout, you not only feed the scientism and expertcracy of the ruling class; They leave reality mapping to people who have no interest in the territory.
A United States todayArticle about the stock exchange says practically so much directly:
Scientists, gender law scholars and biology philosophers said Jackson’s response was commendable if perhaps misleading. It is useful, they say, that Jackson suggested that science might help answer Blackburn’s question, but they note that a competent biologist could not provide a definitive answer either. Scientists agree that there is no adequate way to clearly define what makes someone a woman, and with billions of women on the planet there are many differences.
Later Tuesday it was Senator John Kennedy’s turn to question the candidate. The junior senator from Alabama (who was born in Mississippi in 1951) began by telling Judge Jackson, “I find you very intelligent — and very articulate. I’m still a little unsure how you feel.” After a long and circuitous detour via court placement (in which Kennedy once again called Jackson “very intelligent and very articulate”) and a brief detour via women’s sports, he asked the Richter continues: “When do you think life begins? Jackson raised her eyebrows, folded her hands and said, “Senator…I don’t know….to know?” She shook her head as she forced that out, laughing uncomfortably at the punctuation.
Maybe she should ask a biologist. Anyone worth their salt could tell her that human life begins at conception, the moment when a genetically unique human is created.
“Ma’am,” Kennedy probed, “do you have a belief?” Jackson replied, “I have, um, personal, religious, and other beliefs that have nothing to do with the law when it comes to when life comes.” begins.”
“But do you have a personal opinion about when life begins?” Kennedy pressed on. Jackson, who describes himself as “Protestant, non-denominational,” replied, “I have one religious Opinion – which I put aside when deciding cases.”
When Kennedy asked, “When does a person have the same protections under the law?” Biden’s candidate hesitated. “Well, Senator,” she said after a pause, “um, I believe that the Supreme Court, um – actually, I don’t know the answer to that question. I am sorry. Not me.”
Just like the question “What is a woman?”, “When does life begin?” is not purely biological. It is inextricably linked to the question personality– when a person is recognized as such before the law and his fellow men. A judge who cannot answer – or who considers the question of who is and is not a human person “private” – has no place in the government of a just society.
Either Judge Jackson really isn’t interpreting the law in light of any moral framework — in which case she would be no better than the brain-dead legal nihilists whose rule has liberated every legal abomination Griswold to Bostock and beyond in any direction (this is the “stupid” option) – or the substantive vision influencing their jurisprudence would be to half of Americans that would be so offensive do know what a woman is and does not wants babies murdered, she’d better say it out loud in front of the Senate (that’s the “lying” option).
Choose your poison.