Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden's Supreme Court pick, refuses to define the word 'woman'

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President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, refused to define the word “woman” on the second day of her confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., pressed Jackson on transgender issues Tuesday night.

“Do you agree that schools should teach children that they can choose their gender?” Blackburn asked, after she read a quote from Jackson regarding Georgetown Day School, the private school on whose board Brown serves. 

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Jackson responded by noting that Georgetown Day School is private. When Blackburn pressed again, asking for the judge’s opinion, Jackson said, “Senator, I’m not making comments about what schools can teach.”

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Blackburn then turned to quote the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the majority opinion in U.S. v. Virginia (1996), in which the Court struck down Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy.

“Supposed inherent differences are no longer accepted as a ground for race or national origin classifications,” Blackburn said, quoting Ginsburg. “Physical differences, between men and women, however, are enduring. The two sexes are not fungible. A community made up exclusively of one sex is different from a community composed of both.”

“Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg that there are physical differences between men and women that are enduring?” the senator asked.

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“Um, senator, respectfully I am not familiar with that particular quote or case, so it’s hard for me to comment,” the judge responded.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., listens to senators opening statements during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Bidens nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, on Monday, March 21, 2022. 

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., listens to senators opening statements during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Bidens nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, on Monday, March 21, 2022. 
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Do you interpret Justice Ginsburg’s meaning of men and women as male and female?” Blackburn pressed. Jackson did not comment on the matter.

“Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman?’” the senator asked.

“Can I provide a definition? No,” Jackson responded. “I can’t.”

“You can’t?” Blackburn asked.

“Not in this context, I’m not a biologist,” the judge replied.

“Do you believe the meaning of the word woman is so unclear and controversial that you can’t give me a definition?” Blackburn pressed.

“Senator, in my work as a judge, what I do is I address disputes. If there’s a dispute about a definition, people make arguments, and I look at the law, and I decide,” Jackson said.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Blackburn argued that “the fact that you can’t give me a straight answer about something as fundamental as what a woman is underscores the dangers of the kind of progressive education that we are hearing about.”

“Just last week, an entire generation of young girls watched as our taxpayer-funded institutions permitted a biological man to compete [against] and beat a biological woman in the NCAA women’s swimming championships,” the senator added, referring to the controversial case of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

“What message do you think this sends to girls?”

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“Senator, I’m not sure what message that sends. If you’re asking me about the legal issues related to it, those are topics that are being hotly discussed, as you say, and could come to the Court, so I’m not able to” address them, the judge responded.

Dictionary.com defines “woman” as “an adult female person,” and classifies the word as an “Elementary level” word to define.

The Republican National Committee shared a video of Jackson refusing to define “woman.”

Abigail Shrier, author of the book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” noted that Jackson is ” celebrated for being a pathbreaking woman…but she can’t (won’t) tell you what a woman is. Not a good sign for someone who wishes to be in a position to determine the rights American women will get to keep.”

Seth Dillon, CEO of the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee, called Jackson’s answer “idiotic” for “two reasons.”

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“First, it’s just embarrassing to be unable to define the word ‘woman’ when you are one,” he tweeted. “Second, to say biologists must answer this question is to suggest that womanhood is tied to biology (which is what conservatives argue).”



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