Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton use Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing to score points for likely 2024 runs

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri (far left), his hands open in front of him, addresses Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the first day of her Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday.Win McNamee/Getty Images
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  • Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings are an opportunity for 2024 GOP hopefuls.

  • In opening remarks, Republican lawmakers touted conservative values that appeal to their base.

  • Likely presidential hopefuls mentioned guns, abortion, and free speech.

Senate Republicans eyeing the 2024 presidential race used Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's widely viewed Supreme Court confirmation hearing to court supporters, lacing their opening remarks with conservative buzzwords.

In their speeches on Monday, Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas alerted voters to what they'd be grilling Jackson about during the confirmation process. That to-do list included freedom of speech, religious liberty, gun rights, abortion, school choice, and criminal sentencing.

"All of those questions are fair game," Cruz said to Jackson. "Will you follow the law?"

Hawley, as he telegraphed earlier, let Jackson know he wanted to dig further into her rulings on child-pornography-related cases. He mentioned seven cases where he said she issued "a lenient sentence that was below what the federal guidelines recommended and below what prosecutors requested" — decisions that Republicans say show she's "soft" on crime.

Hawley's assertions about Brown's rulings on those cases have been largely debunked. Still, it's an issue that energizes conservative voters; combating child sex trafficking has become a rallying cry partly because of conspiracy theories amplified by QAnon and its adherents.

"I'm not interested in trapping Judge Jackson. I'm not interested in trying to play 'gotcha,'" Hawley said. "I think the American people deserve the chance to hear her answers."

Cotton said Democrats were "waging a war on the rule of law," railing against President Joe Biden and Senate leaders for their handling of pandemic-related vaccine mandates, immigration at the southern border, and "critical race theory" — one of the GOP's culture-war cudgels.

"We are witnessing a breakdown of society," Cotton said.

Meanwhile, Cruz blamed the Supreme Court for the increasingly contentious nomination process, saying that appointees took over for legislators a few decades ago.

"Starting in the '60s and '70s, the Supreme Court decided its place in our democracy, at least to many justices, was to set aside the democratic decisions of the people and instead to mandate the policy outcomes they themselves support," Cruz said, panning that type of judicial activism as "anti-democratic."

Jackson, whom Biden tapped to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, would become the first Black woman to serve on the high court if confirmed.

She is expected to get the support of all 50 Democratic and Democratic-aligned senators in the evenly split Senate. Democrats are working to peel off whichever Republicans they can to score a bipartisan vote.

Read the original article on Business Insider