Marsha Blackburn asked Ketanji Jackson to define 'woman.' Here's what the Constitution says. | Featured letters

U.S. Constitution stays silent on definition of 'woman'

Amid the Republican grievance signaling by those questioning Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Tennessee U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn stood out.

Others contented themselves with criticizing a private school's choice of books, venturing that states should decide if marriage between persons of different races is permitted, or demanding that the judge rate her religiousness on a scale of one to ten.

Senator Blackburn homed right in on her originalist's concern, asking Judge Jackson to define "woman."

Judge Jackson declined to answer, possibly aware that a case about the definition of "woman" under the law might soon reach the Supreme Court.

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The Republican position would be ready. The original Constitution nowhere mentions women, and even the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments did not include women in giving certain men the vote.

We must turn to the common law for the originalist position.

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In the 18th century and throughout much of the 19th, "woman" was defined by the common law doctrine of coverture, by which a married woman had no legal existence – those who married were "one person."

If a future case is decided by the Court on the basis of originalism, there will be no such thing as "woman" to define.

Anne D. Taylor resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Blackburn's narrative on critical race theory in schools false

Tennesseans deserve a better senator than Marsha Blackburn. Her hypocritical, disrespectful questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was on display as Blackburn kept pushing her own personal beliefs and agenda.

The misrepresentation by Blackburn of what’s being taught in public schools was harmful.

Public schools in Tennessee are not teaching critical race theory or "The 1619 Project" to 5 year-olds and that she kept falsely claiming as she used Fox News and Conservative fringe talking points.

Shame on Marsha for attacking a qualified woman by demanding she define what a women is!

Judge Jackson was respectful in answering all the ridiculous assaulting questions by reaffirming her job of following the laws of our great country.

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Blackburn doesn’t represent all of Tennesseans with her radical beliefs. We are a nation of laws with a separation of church and state.

Evangelicals are not the only faith in our state. We are comprised of many faiths that do not all hold Blackburn’s view of what the Bible says.

Let’s hope Blackburn apologizes to Judge Jackson for the rambling, out of context quotes her staff assembled for her.

Blackburn solely wanted to score points for her misguided views.

Jeannette McNeil, Nashville 37215

Why Jackson was wise not to answer 'woman' question

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson artfully dodged a land mine when she declined to answer Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s request to define “woman”. (Her) answer would be used in any litigation involving transgender athletics.

This, of course, assuming her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court would dominate the headlines when (not if) the issue gets to the high court.

Richard J. Baines, Murfreesboro 37130

Blackburn made position known on judge clearly

I am a Tennessean, and I am proud to live in a democracy. It is vital that citizens make their opinions known to those elected to represent us, both in local and national offices.

On Monday on C-Span I watched the confirmation hearings for Judge Jackson, the nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

The hearings were comprised of opening statements by the leadership of the committee, members of the committee and the nominee.

Before Sen. Marsha Blackburn even formulated her first question of Judge Jackson, the senator's unabashed bias was fully on display. In fact, the day President Biden first announced his nominee, Senator Blackburn expressed fervent disappointment, that the nomination was ill-timed due to the eruption of the War in Ukraine.

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Instead, Senator Blackburn, proclaimed with condescension, that " I will not hold this against the Nominee." How gracious! It is the Senator's duty and responsibility to give any candidate a fair hearing.

Senator Blackburn's opening statement was inflammatory political pandering at its worst. If not so serious it would have been laughable. She opined the judge is soft on crime, even heinous crimes involving children. Then Senator Blackburn spoke to Judge Jackson's family about the honor of her nomination.

Senator Blackburn has already voted in her heart without the necessity of any confirmation hearing at all. A wise person can express one's beliefs and convictions without demeaning commentary.

I respect the Senator's position as a United States Senator, democratically elected. I hope she chooses to be worthy of that office.

Brenda Eddlemon, Hermitage 37076

Jackson rises above senators’ ‘medieval inquisition’

I’ve been watching the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to ever be nominated for this lofty position. It has at times been an enlightening experience but all too often a tortuous one due to the intense political divide in our country, setting up a scenario where Democratic senators are likely to praise and defend Judge Brown Jackson while Republicans attack her relentlessly.

Senator Marsha Blackburn
Senator Marsha Blackburn

But it hasn’t always been like this. A quick dive into the history books reveals that from 1789-1941, seven justices were nominated and confirmed on the same day. “In fact, of the 115 people who’ve served on the court throughout its history, more than half (61) were confirmed within 10 days of their nominations,” according to Pew Research Center. In terms of our nation’s long history, these contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings are a more recent development, mostly over the past fifty years.

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Although I wasn’t around for the Medieval Inquisition, I have read history books and watched movies dramatizing them, and I must say that some of the antics of Republican senators like Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, and our own Marsha Blackburn remind me of the way these inquisitors twisted the truth and omitted important context to what the accused actually said or did.

These senators should be ashamed of the way they have acted, but of course they are not, and would probably say that Democrats have behaved the same way to their nominees in the past.

But the most important lesson I have learned by watching these hearings is that Judge Brown Jackson is the smartest person in the room.

Thomas Riss, Mt. Juliet 37122

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Marsha Blackburn asked Ketanji Jackson to define woman. Here's how.