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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings: What happened Thursday

Witnesses, including Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio, left, swear in to a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday.
Al Drago
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Witnesses, including Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio, left, swear in to a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday.

The nomination hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have ended. Jackson herself wasn't on the program for the fourth and final day of hearings. Instead, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from outside witnesses and the American Bar Association.

Sen. Dick Durbin, who presided over the hearings, announced the committee will meet in executive session on the nomination on March 28, although panel rules allow for any committee business to be "held over" for one week, which would push the actual date of the vote to April 4.

Here's a look at some of the highlights of Thursday's hearing:

Representatives from the American Bar Association lauded Jackson's resume and career. A peer review committee who evaluated Jackson conducted interviews with over 200 attorney and judges who had worked "firsthand" with Jackson. "The question we kept asking ourselves: How does one human being do so much, so extraordinarily well?" asked retired Judge Ann Claire Williams. The retired judges also noted that no one had expressed concerns over Jackson's sentencing history when it came to child pornography defendants, a line of questioning that took hold among GOP senators. Supporters of Jackson touted her sterling career. "Her background is absolutely extraordinary and her demonstration and mastery of the law is second to none," said Wade Henderson, president of the nonprofit Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, on Thursday.
Ting Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, on Thursday.

Sen. Durbin forcefully rejected GOP demands to see pre-sentencing reports. In one of the most heated exchanges of the day. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., pressed the chairman to allow members to view various pre-sentencing reports in child pornography cases that Jackson oversaw. Such reports are kept confidential in order to protect victims' privacy.

"I'm sorry, senator, I'm not going to be party to that," Durbin said. "I would not want that on my conscience, that we did this for some political exercise here, which I think is totally unnecessary, and someone was harmed as a result of it. I'm going to resist it every step of the way."

Blackburn countered: "No one wants to harm children," and argued the panel could assemble in a classified setting to review the materials.

"If you are a parent of some child who has been exploited, and you recognize this judge's name ... and realize that now the report that has been kept in confidence all these years is now going to be handed over to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, what would you think as a mother if it were your daughter or your child? I would think this is an act that is reckless," Durbin said.

Blackburn suggested Democrats had been able to view the documents and were shielding them from Republicans.

"You're wrong. I can't see them, I don't want to see them," Durbin said. "It has not been given to the White House nor has it been given to any member of the Judiciary Committee."

Democrats chided Republicans for attacking Jackson's record. "These bad faith efforts exist despite a resume that arguably surpasses those of previous nominees," said Rep. Joyce Beatty, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus. "I remind this body and America just last year, Judge Jackson was confirmed by this body on a bipartisan vote to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court."

Alabama Attorney Gen. Steve Marshall refused to say if President Biden was "duly elected." Marshall, who was brought to testify as a GOP witness, was repeatedly asked by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., whether he believed Biden was "lawfully serving" as president. Marshall would only reply: "He is the president of this country." Whitehouse also pressed Marshall, who was chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association's Rule of Law Defense Fund prior to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on whether he had involvement in the robocalls that group calling on people to march on the Capitol. Marshall denied that he had been involved.

Democrats hope to confirm Jackson by Easter. Here's a look at how long it takes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

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