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Tags: republicans | supreme court | jackson | guantanamo

Republicans Concerned About Supreme Court Nominee's Guantanamo Bay Work

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By    |   Monday, 14 March 2022 12:17 PM EDT

Republican lawmakers are expressing concern over Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's representation of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

A topic of closed-door conversations with GOP senators and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jackson's work is likely to be brought up again during committee hearings next week, The Hill reports.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he mentioned Jackson's Guantanamo Bay work during his meeting with her and that he expected it to come up again during the hearing. 

"We did talk ... about her representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees," Hawley told The Hill. "I expressed some concern about this."

The senator added that he thought her work on the cases while in private practice was "interesting" and "a little concerning."

"I imagine that that will be something we'll want to ask her about ... I'm going to have some more questions about that," Hawley continued. 

The Republican National Committee (RNC) also highlighted the issue, saying that Jackson's support of Guantanamo detainees goes "beyond just giving them a competent defense." 

"Despite Jackson's claim that she did not get to choose her clients as a public defender, she continued to advocate for Guantanamo terrorists when she went into private practice," the RNC said.

The Guantanamo Bay military prison opened in 2002 on a U.S. naval base in Cuba to house 9/11 terrorism suspects and has been the source of legal disputes and friction between Democrat presidents pledging to close it, and Congress enacting restrictions making it more difficult to do so.

Jackson previously worked as a public defender in Washington, D.C., from 2005 to 2007 and worked on behalf of Khi Ali Gul, a now-former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, during that time.

In her responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire for her nomination to the high court, Jackson listed the case Khi Ali Gul v. Bush as one of the 10 most significant of her career. 

After making the switch to private practice, Jackson worked on Supreme Court amicus briefs in cases related to Guantánamo Bay detainees including Boumediene v. Bush, in which the court held that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 violated the Suspension Clause of the Constitution.

A member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told The Hill he knows public defenders "defend any number of cases" but said that he was trying to better understand Jackson's thinking. 

"We're going to have to take a look at the record ... what we're trying to do is glue together any sort of patterns that would kind of lead to an assumption about predisposition on future cases," Tillis said. 

Biden and Senate Democrats have sought to diversify the Supreme Court, not only on race and gender, but also with a nominee's professional background.

If she's confirmed, Jackson will be both the first Black woman on the court and the first justice who worked as a public defender.

Responding to the Republican criticism about her work on Guantanamo detainee cases, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Hill that Jackson "played a very minor role" on the cases while in private practice.

"But let's be very candid about this, in the United States of America we try to make sure everyone has a right to counsel," Durbin said. "The Republicans seem to forget that if it involves representing a controversial defendant." 

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Republican lawmakers are expressing concern over Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's representation of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
republicans, supreme court, jackson, guantanamo
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2022-17-14
Monday, 14 March 2022 12:17 PM
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