As a result of a heated exchange over the status of prisoners still being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Senator Lindsey Graham stormed out of the nomination hearing for Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
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South Carolina’s Republican senator traded barbs with Sen. Dick Durbin, the long-serving Illinois Democrat after the latter noted that the detainees – gathered from various battlefields during the Global War On Terror that lasted for more than a decade following the September 11, 2001, attacks – are being held at an estimated cost of $12-13 million per year. Durbin suggested that the detainees could be transferred to a prison in Florence, Colorado, significantly reducing the government’s costs.
Then he claimed that terrorist detainees who have been released have a recidivism rate of only 5 percent.
“Mr. Chairman, according to the Director of National Intelligence, it’s 31 percent,” Graham shot back. “Somebody is wrong here.
“If you’re gonna talk about what I said I’m going to respond to what you said. If we close Gitmo and move them to Colorado, do you support indefinite detention under war for these detainees?” Graham pushed.
“I just want to be clear here that I’m giving the facts-” Durbin replied before Graham interrupted.
“The answer is no,” Graham said. “What does it matter when it goes back to? We had them and they got loose and they started killing people. If you were one of the people killed in 2005, does it matter to you when we release them?”
In addition, he argued that the “system has failed miserably,” stating that “advocates to change the system, like she was advocating, would destroy our ability to protect this country.”
“We’re at war, we’re not fighting a crime. This is not some passage of time event,” he added.
“As long as they’re dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they’re gonna go back and kill Americans,” Graham continued, heatedly. “It won’t bother me one bit if 39 of them die in prison. That’s a better outcome than letting them go and if it costs $500 million to keep them in jail, keep them in jail because they’re gonna go back to the fight!
Graham concluded, yelling “Look at the friggin Afghan government, it’s made up of former detainees in Gitmo. This whole thing by the left about this war ain’t working!”
Graham then rose from his seat and walked out of the hearing.
Sen. Lindsey Graham gets angry and walks out after Sen. Dick Durbin fact checks him on the rescidivism rate at Gitmo, which Durbin says was six times lower than Graham stated. pic.twitter.com/fDd7ribloa
— David Heath (@davidhth) March 22, 2022
The Daily Caller reported on the tense exchange:
A recurring topic at the hearing regarded Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s representation of four Guantanamo Bay detainees during her time serving as a public defender. She defended her past record arguing that a criminal defense lawyer does not choose their clients and defends their clients in order to serve the Constitution and the court.
“September 11  was a tragic attack on this country,” Jackson stated. “We all lived through it, we saw what happened and there were many defenses, important defenses, that Americans undertook. There were Americans whose service came in the form of military action.”
“After 9/11, there were also lawyers who recognized that our nation’s values were under attack, that we couldn’t let the terrorists win by changing who we were fundamentally,” she continued. “And what that meant was that the people who were being accused by our government of having engaged in actions related to this, under our constitutional scheme, were entitled to representation, were entitled to be treated fairly. That’s what makes our system the best in the world. That’s what makes us exemplary.”
She also noted that in the past, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that detainees have the right to seek a legal review of their incarceration. She also noted that she had been selected to advocate for them in some cases.
“Federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients,” she explained. “They have to represent whoever comes in, and it’s a service. That’s what you do as a federal public defender, you are standing up for the constitutional value of representation. And so I represented, as an appellate defender, some of those detainees.”
In her view, a criminal defense attorney’s role is to represent the Constitution and the court while representing their clients and that the Constitution “does not get suspended in times of emergency.”
The second day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing conducted by the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee ended with her refusing to define the word ‘woman.’
A tense exchange on sex and gender issues occurred between Jackson and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) following the upset victory of biological male swimmer Lia Thomas over female competition in the NCAA championships.
Blackburn quoted the late Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying: ‘Physical differences between men and women 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?’ Blackburn inquired.
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Blackburn asked Jackson directly when she replied that she had never heard the quote: ‘Can you define the word ”woman”?’
‘Can I provide a definition?’ Jackson questioned back.
‘No, I can’t,’ she declared, before adding: ‘I’m not a biologist.’
SEN. BLACKBURN: "Can you provide a definition of the word 'woman'?"
JACKSON: "No, I can't"
BLACKBURN: "You can't?"
JACKSON: "I'm not a biologist" pic.twitter.com/i7Rg83z5Y4
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 23, 2022