Minutes after President Biden nominated Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court, CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell swooned: “No matter what your politics, you couldn’t help but be moved by what just happened at the White House.” She even brought on Democratic Senator Cory Booker to further cheerlead for Jackson during the live special report.
“And this is one of the longest legacy-lasting events that a president can make, is the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, and has now written himself into the history books by nominating the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court,” O’Donnell hyped just as the White House announcement ceremony concluded. Her insistence was: “No matter what your politics, you couldn’t help but be moved by what just happened at the White House.”
Jan Crawford, the chief legal correspondent, joined the coverage.
Well, I think you could see in the remarks why she’s always been the frontrunner for this position. She has outstanding academic and legal credentials. – Harvard, Harvard Law, Supreme Court clerk, a federal defender, private practice, the sentencing commission – She also has a compelling story to tell, which is rooted in African American experiences. That will give the United States Supreme Court a fresh and often needed perspective.
Moments later, O’Donnell welcomed on Senator Booker to hail the pick: “And Senator, I know last year that you called Judge Jackson’s work as a public defender, quote, ‘noble.’ Tell us more about what you think of this day and what you know about her qualifications.”He fawned predictably:
Well, I just have to say it’s hard to watch that without getting really emotional. You know, I’m African-American, I grew up in traditions that are very strong in their matriarchal leadership. This barrier is so deep that it’s amazing to break. In America’s history, there have been one hundred fifteen Supreme Court justices. 108 of these were white men. Even though there’s been generations of qualified black women, This is an exceptional moment.
On a CBS special earlier in the morning when it was first reported that Biden had planned to nominate Jackson as his nominee, Nancy Cordes applauded cheerfully that federal judge, who she described as “a person who cares”. “has a superior intellect and has been on a rocket ship towards a position like this since college.”
CBS Mornings co-host Tony Dokoupil got so caught up in all the excitement that he, too, saw stars: “Yeah, and on a lighter note, Nancy, she also reportedly, as a drama student at Harvard undergrad, once partnered in a scene with Matt Damon. I’m hoping that comes up in confirmation.”
Even once he regained his composure and tried to actually ask about “controversial” aspects of Jackson’s legal career, like her defending a Guantanamo Bay detainee, that could be “sticking points” during Senate confirmation hearings, Cordes dismissed such concerns:
Yes, sure. I believe anyone who served as both a lawyer and a judge will be asked questions about particular cases they tried or ruled in. That is what is expected. However, she’s been through it all before.She was recently nominated by President Biden for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. last year. She passed with flying colors her confirmation processHe even won three Republican votes.
The reporter was then confident: “So this is something that she is already prepared for in a way and she has a very large cheering squad around her. Fellow lawyers, friends, family, certainly many lawmakers who already know her who are going to be working with her to help her through this process.”Not to mention liberal media outlets such as CBS.
These CBS News Special Reports did not include any advertisements or commercial breaks.
These are transcriptions from the February 25, 2015 coverage.
CBS News Special Report
8.59 am ET
NANCY CORRDES: It is an experience President Biden talks about with fondness and reverence. He talks about the importance of serving in this capacity for those who can’t afford private counsel, and now he is choosing someone to follow in his footsteps. However, she is also a former judge who has had private practice experience and, as many of her friends know, has superior intelligence and was on a fast track to a similar position since college.
TONY DOKOUPIL (Yes, I believe so). On a more positive note, Nancy, a Harvard drama student, was reportedly once in a scene together with Matt Damon. I’m hoping that comes up in confirmation. I don’t think it will, however.
It is likely that she will be asked about her experience as a public lawyer. She was assigned to at least one Guantanamo prisoner’s case. These are controversial cases. How much more can you expect of this confirmation process. Where are the – where could the sticking points be potentially?
CORDES: I believe that anyone who has been a lawyer or a judge will be asked questions about particular cases they have tried and ruled in. This is normal. She has already been through all of this rigor before. In fact, she was recently nominated to the U.S. District Court in Washington by President Biden last year. She passed the confirmation process without any problems, and even won three Republican votes.
This is something she’s prepared for and has an enormous cheering section. To help her navigate this difficult process, she will have the support of her friends, colleagues, and even family members.
ADRIANA DIAZ: And so we’ll see if she’ll get the votes from Republicans in the Senate. Let’s turn now to senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe. Ed, what is the story? You think it was the events of the previous administration and the 2020 election that led to the current pick?
ED O’KEEFE: Well, part of the reason why the White House was so eager to announce this by today is tonight is exactly two years to the night that the President, as a candidate, vowed to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. This happened in South Carolina during the CBS debate.
He had attended a reception held by the Congressional Black Caucus the night before. When he got pulled aside by Benny Thompson, Congressman Jim Clyburn and Marsha Fudge, Marsha Fudge from Ohio, they began a discussion in a backroom regarding the current state of play and what it would take to win the South Carolina primary. And depending on who you talk to, in essence, Jim Clyburn said to him, “One thing you can do is promise to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court. Do it in the debate.”
Biden did not mention it during the first part of that debate. Jim Clyburn went backstage to find him and said, “No matter what the next answer is, just mention it. Mention that you’ll nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.” The crowd cheered when he did it, Clyburn endorsed him a few days later, things turned around and Joe Biden is now president.
This is the fulfilling of a campaign promise not only to an important political ally, but also to a large voting bloc of Democratic Party. Black women have been the most loyal demographic to the Democratic Party since the 1970s and there’s been an acknowledgment, as the President, his aides, and others have discussed, that it’s a shame that no black woman has ever served on the high court. Today, he fulfills that campaign promise, he assists, you know?, to address the inequity many believe exists, and Kentanji brown Jackson will succeed Stephen Breyer.
CBS News Special Report
2.22 PM ET
NORAH O’DONNELL: And this is one of the longest legacy-lasting events that a president can make, is the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, and has now written himself into the history books by nominating the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. No matter what your politics, you couldn’t help but be moved by what just happened at the White House. And certainly hearing about Judge Jackson’s life, her parents, their accomplishments and everything.
Let’s bring in CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford. Jan is familiar with the Court and many people who are on it, including those serving as district judges. Describe her qualifications and what she’s done as a jurist.
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, I think you could see in the remarks why she’s always been the frontrunner for this position. I mean, not only does she have those stellar academic and legal qualifications – Harvard, Harvard Law, Supreme Court clerk, a federal defender, private practice, the sentencing commission – she also brings that compelling life story that is said to be rooted really in the African American experience. This will give the United States Supreme Court a new and much-needed perspective.
As a judge, on the district court and the appeals court, her colleagues that I’ve talked to said that she is methodical, careful, well prepared, always well prepared, she works very hard, and she has a firm view of the law. So they do not think that she’s gonna get up to the Supreme Court, like a lot of new justices do, and feel a little, like, overwhelmed by the gravity of the place. They believe that she will get to that court and say, “This is what I think the law is, let’s get to work.”
O’DONNELL: And that experience, that real-life experience that you noted, she would be the first public defender, former public defender, and of course the first defense lawyer since Thurgood Marshall.
Let’s bring in Senator Cory Booker, who joins us from the state of New Jersey. And Senator, I know last year that you called Judge Jackson’s work as a public defender, quote, “noble.” Tell us more about what you think of this day and what you know about her qualifications.
SEN. CORY Booker [D-NJ]: Well, I just have to say it’s hard to watch that without getting really emotional. You know, I’m African-American, I grew up in traditions that are very strong in their matriarchal leadership. This barrier is so deep that it’s amazing to break. There have been a total of 115 Supreme Court justices throughout America’s history. Only 108 were black men. Even though there’s been generations of qualified black women, this is an extraordinary moment, this is an extraordinary moment.