On Tuesday, Republican senators grilled Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson over her support for accused terrorists incarcerated in the United States military camp in Guantanamo Bay.
This grilling occurred during Jackson’s confirmation hearing.
During her tenure as a defence lawyer at Guantanamo Bay, from 2005 to 2007, Jackson defended four suspected terrorists detained at the detention facility.
She also assisted in the preparation and filing of multiple amicus papers on behalf of a client who want to express their support for the arguments advanced by inmates at Guantanamo Bay.
Despite the fact Jackson and Democrats have emphasized the constitutional rights afforded to suspected terrorists, Republicans believe her representation of the prisoners went above and beyond her legal responsibilities as a defense attorney.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on defending Guantanamo Bay detainees: “Federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients … It’s a service … You are standing up for the constitutional value of representation.”
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 22, 2022
Lindsey Graham’s Questions
Members of Congress, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, inquired about Jackson’s papers.
She submitted these papers while representing both detained, accused terrorists and others involved in their cases.
While serving as an attorney at the law firm, Morrison & Foerster, Jackson prepared amicus papers in the lawsuits Boumediene v. Bush and Al-Marri v. Spagone.
A handful of former federal judges joined Jackson and her clients in arguing in the Boumediene plea the federal government could not utilize information collected from accused terrorists via torture in court proceedings.
“I have no issue with anyone who takes up that fight; you’re simply doing your job, and I believe you’re making our nation better,” Graham said. “The American people need a system where everyone is heard, whether you love them or not.”
Terrorists should be kept off the battlefield, he said, and the American people deserve a system that can do this.
During the Al-Marri brief, which was filed on support of three non-profit organizations, Jackson presented an argument that was cited by Graham.
As part of that petition, Jackson contended of her defendants that the Executive Branch must not imprison those who are legitimately present in the United States, and allegedly participated in terrorist-related activity, without charging them or holding them accountable.
Jackson’s Response to Questions
“It was my obligation to present the arguments of my clients,” she said to Graham.
That was not a question addressed by the Supreme Court. The case was deemed moot.
Graham emerged from hearing and said it’s “fair to say” he sees red flags with Jackson nomination. He criticized her explanation of defending Guantanamo detainees as an attorney. “It just doesn’t make sense to me,” he told me. He was one of 3 Rs who voted for her for DC Circuit
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 22, 2022
On the same day, Graham and Cornyn both drew attention to a paragraph in a habeas corpus motion filed on behalf of Khiali-Gul, an Afghan inmate detained since 2002 and freed in 2014.
During his time as a part of Gul’s defense team, Jackson assisted in the drafting of the 2005 brief, which asserted government officials engaged in acts of war and human rights violations against him.
It describes circumstances of isolation, continual susceptibility to repeated questioning, harsh beatings, and the threat or actuality of being held in cages with little privacy, among other things.