Ketanji Brown Jackson: ‘I Don’t Know’ When Human Life Begins | National Review

Ketanji Brown Jackson: ‘I Don’t Know’ When Human Life Begins | National Review

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2022. (Michael A McCoy/Reuters)

During yesterday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Ketanji Brown Jackson, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein asked the nominee for her thoughts on Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which invented and maintained a supposed constitutional right to abortion.

“I do agree with both Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett on Roe and Casey are the settled law of the Supreme Court concerning the right to terminate a woman’s pregnancy,” Jackson said. She added that the cases “established a framework that the court has reaffirmed and in order to revisit, as Justice Barrett said, the Supreme Court looks at various factors because stare decisis is a very important principle.”

Jackson noted, too, that stare decisis “provides and establishes predictability, stability, it also serves as a restraint in this way on the exercise of judicial authority because the Court looks at whether or not precedents are relied upon, whether they’re workable, in addition to whether or not they’re wrong.”

It was altogether not an especially surprising or objectionable answer, and not all that different from the originalist nominees who came before her, aside from her reference to “terminating pregnancy.”

It was slightly more objectionable when Senator Kennedy of Louisiana asked Jackson when human life begins and the nominee responded, “I don’t know.” She went on to protest that her personal beliefs about the subject should have nothing to do with her jurisprudence.

True enough — but the question of when human life begins isn’t a matter of personal belief. It’s a scientific fact. There is an overwhelming consensus among biologists and embryologists that human life begins at conception. We might debate what that fact means for abortion law and policy, or for the morality of abortion, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

Jackson’s reticence on the subject isn’t especially surprising. As an attorney, she helped to file an amicus brief for NARAL Pro-Choice America in favor of free-speech “buffer zones” outside of abortion clinics. As a judge, she ruled against a Trump administration effort to limit federal funding flowing to Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. As a Supreme Court justice, she will almost certainly be a guaranteed vote in favor of expansive abortion rights.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.