Padilla Delivers Opening Remarks on Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Padilla delivers opening statement at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered opening remarks during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Padilla’s remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below and video of his remarks is available here.

Judge Jackson: Welcome back to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The last time you appeared before us, you mentioned that every so often, you walk a few blocks from your courthouse to the National Archives.

You shared that there, at the home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, you reflect on the momentousness of the office you hold.

It’s a fitting place to be reminded of our Nation’s highest ideals: our pursuit of a Union that is more free, more fair, and more perfect.

It’s also a place to see how for two and a half centuries, our democracy has remained a work in progress.

And that it is incumbent on all of us — yes as a nation, but also as individuals — to continue making that progress.

The men who wrote our Founding documents could never have imagined that you would one day be here.

A former public defender, a proud graduate of a public high school, a working mom.

And yes — the first Black woman — nominated to serve on our nation’s highest court.

They could never have imagined that the Senators sitting before you would include the first women to represent California, Hawaii, and Tennessee; the first Jewish man to represent Georgia; the first Hispanic man to represent Texas; and the first Black man to represent New Jersey.

Nor could they have imagined that list to include me.

I am here as the proud son of immigrants from Mexico, who came to this country with little formal education, but a tremendous work ethic and big dreams.

Because of the decades of hard work and sacrifice by Santos and Lupe Padilla, my dad as a short order cook and my mom as a housekeeper, I’ve enjoyed tremendous opportunities in my life.

That includes the honor of representing the state of California in the United States Senate and being the first Latino to do so.

Like you, like so many of us in this room, I am blessed to live the American dream.

Looking around, you can see the strides that our democracy has made; toward strengthening our institutions by including more voices and more perspectives.

And if you are confirmed, we’ll take another step toward making our government better reflect the America it serves; toward making the promise of America more real.

We know that progress doesn’t come easily.

Breaking barriers and being the first means not just significant opportunity, but also tremendous responsibility.

But Judge Jackson, I also know that you are equipped with a tremendous record of experience and accomplishment, and you are ready to blaze this trail.

A trail that your grandparents would have found unfathomable, but one that your daughters — and my sons — will now see as a natural part of the American story.

Judge Jackson, even before your next opinion or dissent, your appearance before us today already begins a new chapter in our nation’s history.

And I can say for certain that by the end of these hearings, those watching across the country will know of your outstanding qualifications, your experience, and your accomplishments, which bear repeating over and over again.

A public education including graduating from Miami Palmetto Senior High; followed by degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Clerkships at the federal district court, the federal court of appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Two years as a federal public defender, two years as a staff member of the US Sentencing Commission, and four years as its Vice Chair.

You’ve been confirmed by the Senate not once, not twice, but three times – each on a bipartisan basis – including two lifetime judicial appointments.

And you bring nearly a decade of judicial experience, which is more than the combined total of four currently sitting Justices at the times they were nominated.

You are clearly more than qualified to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

And yes, you bring a wealth of other important experiences and perspectives to the Court — including as a working mother, and as a Black woman.

In these hearings, I look forward to speaking further about your background, your experiences on and off the bench, and your approach to the law.

But based on our conversations already, and my review of your record, I believe that you have the expertise, the insight, and the heart to elevate the weighty deliberations of the Supreme Court.

Every year, the Supreme Court decides dozens of cases that shape the fundamental rights and the lives of the American people.

Only a small percentage of those cases will be highlighted in history books, make the front page of newspapers, or go viral on social media.

But the choices of the Supreme Court will certainly shape the future of labor rights, voting rights, women’s rights; criminal justice, immigration, technology, environmental protection, and so much more.

And let me be clear about something very important, if you’re confirmed, I don’t expect to agree with every detail of every decision you reach.

That is not my test.

That is not our test.

Our job on this Committee is to make sure the next Justice will honor the rule of law and the principle of equal justice for all.

We must ensure the next Justice will help the Supreme Court live up to its responsibility to the American people.

America is watching.

America is watching these hearings to see what the future holds, not just for themselves, but for the Court as well.

Judge Jackson, like you, I believe in the greatness and promise of this nation.

I believe that we can continue building on our dream of a more perfect Union: and that includes building a government that better reflects and represents the people it serves.

It’s a dream we have spent two and a half centuries struggling to realize.

And while this hearing will not be the last step on our journey, it is a momentous step forward.

Judge Jackson, you are an outstanding nominee for our nation’s highest court.

I thank you for your service. And I thank you for sharing your faith in America’s promise — a faith that is stronger because you know how far our nation has come.

Before closing, I’d like to share a few words in Spanish on the importance of this nomination.

La Corte Suprema decide docenas de casos cada año que afectan nuestras vidas y derechos fundamentales de los estadounidenses.

Y esas decisiones afectaran el futuro de nuestro país atreves de temas como el derecho al voto, inmigración, protección ambiental y mucho mas.

Esta semana, el Senado y el país verán lo calificada que está la jueza Jackson para la Corte Suprema.

Espero escuchar mas sobre la jueza y las perspectivas importantes y necesarias que traería a la Corte Suprema.

Judge Jackson, I look forward to your testimony over the next few days.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.