‘War room’ established by Black lawmakers before Ketanji Brown Jackson nomination to counter attacks

The Congressional Black Caucus mobilized efforts to defend whichever Supreme Court nominee Biden appointed from right-wing attacks

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In preparation for President Joe Biden’s nomination of a Black woman to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, the Congressional Black Caucus put in place a “war room,” members of which have committed to defending the nominee from right-wing attacks, The Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, Black lawmakers mobilized less than one week following Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s Jan. 27 announcement that he will retire. Biden had pledged to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court during a primary debate in March 2020.

Although only two Black federal legislators, Sen. Cory Booker from New Jersey, and Raphael Warnock from Georgia, will vote to confirm the Supreme Court nominee, the Congressional Black Caucus, which includes members of the House of Representatives, strategized what their roles would be to support Biden’s historic choice.

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) looks on as Ketanji Brown Jackson, circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, delivers brief remarks as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court during an event in the Cross Hall of the White House February 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

According to the Post, weeks before Jackson’s nomination, Congressional Black Caucus members:

  • Determined they would serve as the bulwark against attacks and attempts to discredit the Black woman Biden selected, becoming her first line of defense
  • Discussed privately, not publicly, why they supported one candidate over another to prevent the appearance of infighting and inadvertently pitting one Black woman against another publicly
  • Wrote talking points crafted to “uplift and amplify” the nominee
  • Spent a month studying previous criticism levied against the top contenders

On Wednesday, ahead of the decision, CBC aides invited chiefs of staff to a “CBCxSCOTUS Strategy Session” where they outlined ways to defend how nominees are represented, the Post reported.

“We will also ensure Judge Ketanji Brown is treated fairly in the media. Any dog whistle or bigoted signaling will not be tolerated,” read one of the talking points discussed during the meeting, as reported by the Post. The legislators used Jackson’s name as a placeholder as they were not informed in advance who Biden would nominate, according to the Post.

Following the president’s historic announcement of Jackson’s selection on Friday, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty, who chairs the CBC, vowed in a statement that war room members will maintain a  “laser-focused” approach to ensuring that Jackson “receives a full and fair hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the Post reported.

Beatty added that Black lawmakers are “prepared to combat anyone who may use personal attacks or bigoted language” to discredit Jackson from the day of her nomination to her upcoming confirmation.

After Biden’s nomination, the Post reported the CBC’s post-announcement strategy includes:

  • Watching vigilantly how conservative media outlets discuss Jackson
  • Using the previously prepared talking points that were distributed to CBC members Friday
  • Having Black female Congressional members heighten their support for Jackson and challenge unfounded GOP attacks that attempt to portray Jackson as “leftist” and “radical”
  • Responding individually in tweets and released statements to attacks against the nominee

“Sadly, we know that Black women in positions of power often face the ugliest forms of racist and sexist attacks,” Beatty said. “Despite this, in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘we shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”

Following the decision, CBC members highlighted the significance of Jackson’s achievement.

“She will be a great Justice and a role model to women and girls everywhere, especially little black girls, that in America all things are possible with hard work and determination,” Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee stated on Friday.

As reported by theGrio, Jackson, 51, currently sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She was confirmed in June 2021 by the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support, and will now sit before the Senate once more seeking confirmation to the Supreme Court.

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