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Blackburn to Jackson: Can you define ‘the word woman’?

POLITICO logo POLITICO 3/23/2022 By Myah Ward
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) listens during the second day of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2022. © Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) listens during the second day of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2022.

As the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson went into hour 13, Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked the Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday to define the word “woman.”

“I can’t — ” Jackson replied.

“You can’t?” Blackburn said.

“Not in this context. I’m not a biologist,” Jackson said.

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

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The Tennessee Republican’s line of questioning hit on nearly every political hot-button issue, from critical race theory to teaching children about gender identity in schools to Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer on the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s team.

Jackson said her role as a judge would be to address disputes about a definition and to interpret the law.

“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,” Blackburn said, before turning to Thomas, who has been at the center of the debate over policies for transgender athletes.

Blackburn asked what message allowing Thomas to compete sends to “girls who aspire to compete and win in sports?”

“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,” Jackson said before Blackburn cut her off, to explain her view of what message this delivers to young women.

“I think it tells our girls that their voices don’t matter,” Blackburn responded. “I think it tells them that they’re second-class citizens. And parents want to have a Supreme Court justice who is committed to preserving parental autonomy and protecting our nation’s children.”

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