Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) chided Republican senators on Wednesday for repeatedly pressing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson about her judicial philosophy.
But Whitehouse has been guilty of the very act he is railing against now.
What did Whitehouse say?
While speaking during Jackson’s third day of Senate confirmation hearings, Whitehouse knocked questions targeting Jackson’s judicial philosophy.
“The fact that Judge Jackson has said, ‘I don’t have a judicial philosophy, I’ve got a judicial methodology, doesn’t bother me a bit,” Whitehouse said. “In fact, it kinda bothers me the expectation that a nominee to the Supreme Court should have a judicial philosophy.”
The Rhode Island Democrat explained he opposes judicial philosophies because they can become a “screen for a predisposition that a judge frankly should not have.”
“One of the problems with ‘judicial philosophy’ is occasional adherence, selective adherence, which in my mind makes it less of a judicial philosophy and more of a doctrine of convenience to be trotted out when it helps the people you want to help, and originalism strikes me as that kind of doctrine,” Whitehouse said.
After railing against corporate influence in politics, Whitehouse declared, “I don’t think you have to have a judicial philosophy. I think you have to have integrity, a judicial temperament. But a philosophy? Where does that come from?”
But what has Whitehouse said in the past?
Five years ago, when Neil Gorsuch was undergoing his Senate confirmation process, Whitehouse questioned Gorsuch about his judicial philosophy.
During the hearing, Whitehouse asked Gorsuch, “How would you describe any differences that you may have in judicial philosophy with [then-Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Merrick] Garland?”
“I would leave that for others to characterize. I do not like it when people characterize me, and I would not prefer to characterize him. He can characterize himself,” Gorsuch responded.
Meanwhile, Whitehouse also promoted questions about judicial philosophy when Sonia Sotomayor underwent her Senate confirmation process in 2009.
“It is fair to inquire into a nominee’s judicial philosophy, and we will here have a serious and fair inquiry,” Whitehouse said at the time. “But the pretense that Republican nominees embody modesty and restraint, or that Democratic nominees must be activists, runs starkly counter to recent history.”
While Democratic senators have not asked Jackson many questions about her judicial philosophy, they have indeed asked them.
For example, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-N.Y.) asked Jackson in written questions to “characterize your judicial philosophy.”
“My judicial philosophy is to approach all cases with professional integrity, meaning strict adherence to the rule of law, keeping an open mind, and deciding each issue in a transparent, straightforward manner, without bias or any preconceived notion of how the matter is going to turn out,” Jackson responded.
Sen. Whitehouse Speaks on Day 3 of Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson