Conservative Legal Pundit: Woman Of Color On Reported SCOTUS Shortlist Isn't Very Smart

Ketanji Brown JacksonFederal district Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a possible nominee for the Supreme Court, would represent only the second woman of color ever to serve on the high court. She graduated with honors from Harvard College and Harvard Law School before clerking for three judges (including a Supreme Court Justice). Yet, a leading right-wing pundit on judicial issues would like you to think that she isn't actually very smart, claiming that unnamed sources would say she is not regarded “among the leading lights of the federal district court in D.C.”

Jackson was named by The Washington Post as a candidate under consideration to fill the vacancy opened by Justice Antonin Scalia's death. Ed Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, responded in a March 7 National Review post:

It's very odd to see federal district judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the White House's supposed short list for the Supreme Court vacancy. As any reporter would quickly discover, she is not regarded by her colleagues or the bar as among the leading lights of the federal district court in D.C. And, no, that's not just because she hasn't been on that court for very long. 

Here's how Jackson's “impeccable” credentials were described by Tom Goldstein, a lawyer who regularly argues before the Supreme Court and is the publisher of SCOTUSblog:

Ketanji Brown Jackson is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  She was confirmed by without any Republican opposition in the Senate not once, but twice. She was confirmed to her current position in 2013 by unanimous consent -- that is, without any stated opposition. She was also previously confirmed unanimously to a seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission (where she became vice chair).

She is a young -- but not too young (forty-five) -- black woman. Her credentials are impeccable. She was a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. She clerked on the Supreme Court (for Justice Stephen Breyer) and had two other clerkships as well. As a lawyer before joining the Sentencing Commission, she had various jobs, including as a public defender.

Whelan's source-free critique echoes similar attacks based on gender and racial biases that were leveled at Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was the first woman of color to be nominated for the Supreme Court. Based on reported anonymous criticism, Sotomayor was smeared as “a lightweight” who was “not that smart,” and “not that intellectually bright.” As noted racist Pat Buchanan put it, “That lady up there is a Scalia? Come on!”