During the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings Tuesday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to define what a “woman” is, deferring instead to scientific experts.
When asked to define “woman” by Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, she replied, “I can’t…I’m not a biologist.” Blackburn shot back, “The meaning of the word woman is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?”
“Senator, in my work as a judge, what I do is I address disputes. If there’s a dispute about a definition, people make arguments and I look at the law and I decide,” Jackson added, reiterating the methodical judicial approach she has historically applied.
BLACKBURN: Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?
JACKSON: I can’t. I’m not a biologist. pic.twitter.com/hQ7Q67O0Vw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 23, 2022
Given the way the transgender debate has escalated, some Republicans are concerned about the future adjudication of cases dealing with gender identity, since some are likely to end up on the Supreme Court docket. As a nominee to the High Court, Jackson will continue to face scrutiny over her opinions on a range of cultural issues important to conservatives, including abortion, transgenderism, and racialized public school curricula.
During the Tuesday confirmation hearing, Blackburn pressed Jackson on critical race theory and whether it should be outlawed in public schools. Republican senators are likely to attempt to nail Jackson on her stance on abortion in the coming days.
“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,” Blackburn said. She cited the NCAA championship last weekend, where transgender athlete Lia Thomas outperformed and out-placed multiple female swimmers, some former Olympians, stripping them of their chances of advancing to finals.
“What message do you think this sends to girls who aspire to compete and win in sports at the highest levels?,” the senator asked.
Blackburn also questioned Jackson about her stance on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which challenges the precedent set by the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade and which is currently before the Court.
“Do you commit to respecting the Court’s decision if it rules that Roe was wrongly decided and that the issue of abortion should be sent back to the states?” Blackburn asked.
“Whatever the Supreme Court decides in Dobbs will be the precedent of the Supreme Court. It will be worthy of respect in the sense that it is the precedent. I commit to treating it as I would any other precedent,” Jackson replied.
In the last couple of years, multiple Republican-dominated states, notably Florida and most recently Iowa, have passed or enacted legislation prohibiting the inclusion of biological men in women’s sports at the K-12 and collegiate levels. However, Republican governors in Indiana and Utah vetoed such legislation this week.