It was not surprising to see Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson dodge the question “What is a woman?” But it was surprising how she dodged it.
In response to Senator Blackburn, Brown Jackson might have said something to the effect of: “Some argue sex should be defined as strictly anatomical. Others argue it should include gender identity. This is a live political and legal question that the court considers in context-specific and case-specific ways.” If pressed again, she could have said, “As a judge, I cannot answer this question in the abstract, only in relation to specific cases.”
But instead, Brown Jackson implied that she was incapable of answering the question because she does not have the requisite expertise. “I’m not a biologist,” she said. This answer is extremely off-putting, as Kyle has noted. Legally, there might be some justification for suggesting that the definition of a woman is complicated and controversial (though it shouldn’t be, of course). But biologically, such a suggestion is absurd.
As I wrote earlier this month in a column titled “What Is a Woman?”:
Quite simply, a woman is an adult human female. A woman belongs to the female sex, which means she has female chromosomes, reproductive organs, and gametes. Sex is observable at birth (and even earlier with ultrasound technology) and detectable long after death by DNA testing.
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