CNN op-ed accuses Ben Sasse of racism, sexism for complimenting Ketanji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson vote may have ‘a little bit of drama’ before confirmation: Shannon Bream

‘Fox News @ Night’ host Shannon Bream looks ahead to the Senate Supreme Court vote and discusses her new book ‘The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak.’

Last week, liberal media outlets raged that Republicans were “racist” to question Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over her lenient sentencing for child pornography offenders and whether she supports critical race theory. But one CNN columnist suggested that Republican senators who merely complimented the Supreme Court nominee were racist, as well.

Academic scholar Peniel E. Joseph took issue with most of the Republicans questioning Jackson, calling their treatment in the hearing, “racist, sexist mudslinging,” in his op-ed for CNN. 

After slamming Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Ted Cruz, R-Texas., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., as racists for their questions to Jackson, Joseph argued that Ben Sasse, R-Neb., also displayed his racism and sexism for complimenting Jackson.

Sen. Ben Sasse announced his opposition to confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court
(Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool File)

Comparing the Supreme Court nominee to former First Lady Michelle Obama, the CNN writer attacked Sasse for “belittling and patronizing” Jackson with compliments.

“As a Black woman, navigating these multiple roles — as mother, judge and wife — can be more perilous than White counterparts since African American women are still too often belittled and patronized in our society. This lack of grace and empathy was evident in some of the jaw-dropping language used by members of the committee to describe Jackson — for instance, Sasse told Jackson she was ‘incredibly likable and winsome,'” Joseph wrote.

He went on to  claim this compliment from Sasse was a sexist and racist euphemism.

“It seems impossible to imagine the Senator – or others of his colleagues, who praised Jackson’s performance in a similarly gendered terms – speaking these words to a White, male nominee. It sounded for all the world like she was being congratulated for not being an Angry Black Woman,” he wrote.

However, in a 2018 interview, Sasse used very similar language to praise nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Joseph did not call out any of the Democrats on the committee racists for their compliments and praise of Jackson. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Liberal media outlets used these same terms Sasse used to describe Jackson to describe GOP Supreme Court nominees, and no one took offense.

In July of 2018, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote an opinion piece warning Democrats to vote against Kavanaugh, even though he was “qualified, well-educated, intelligent and likable.” If that sounds unusual considering how harshly the nominee was treated during his confirmation hearing, that’s because Dionne’s column was written about 2 months prior to the accusations from Christine Blasey Ford were made public.

Similarly, liberal columnist Wade Henderson wrote for The Hill in 2017 called Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch, “likable, but dangerous.” That same year, Politico praised Gorsuch as a “winsome” and an “inarguably thoughtful, decent and qualified” pick.

Additionally, Joseph asserted in his CNN column that Republicans’ objections to Jackson’s light sentencing for child pornography offenders perpetuated a racist stereotype against Black women.

“The charge that Jackson sentenced child sex offenders to less time in certain cases than prosecutors recommended is particularly offensive, since it reflects a long-standing pattern in American history of attempting to pillory Black women as being incapable of living up to virtuous standards of womanhood,” he complained.

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