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Black clergy claim Sen. Scott refused to meet on Jackson confirmation concerns

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 11:57 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of the Black clergy in the Lowcountry are voicing concerns that U.S. Sen. Tim Scott refused to meet with them about their concerns over the confirmation process of the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The National Action Network and members of clergy will hold a news conference Friday morning at noon at North Charleston City Hall to address their concerns. In a news release, the group says Scott would not meet with them to discuss the “despicable treatment” of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was eventually confirmed for the nation’s highest court.

“Sen. Scott’s vote against the most qualified judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court in modern times, not my opinion, but consensus, placed him on the wrong side of history,” the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, the vice president of the National Action Network, said. “As the first Black U.S. senator appointed and elected from the state of South Carolina in modern times, and frankly, the first senator of his race to serve since Reconstruction in the United States Senate, gave him a unique opportunity to do something that our ancestors our work has waited for and look forward to for hundreds of years, he had an opportunity to put principle love of family love of community by party and above nonsense. Sen. Scott had a historic opportunity, and I believe a solemn obligation to vote yes.”

Rivers said he was “troubled and frankly hurt” that Scott “did not defend Jackson’s character against the assassinations and the most outrageous and disgraceful treatment any nominee has faced during his time in the Senate.”

Rivers said the group requested a meeting with Scott, but Scott eventually responded to the request, stating in an email, “I will not be able to meet with y’all,” and that the group could meet with Scott’s staff.

“I wrote back to tell the senator, ‘We didn’t vote for your staff and the staff were not on the ballot,’” Rivers said.

He said Scott never got back to them about an alternative date and time.

“Members of the clergy wanted to share with Sen. Scott their concerns and disgust with the treatment of Judge Brown Jackson and Sen. Scott’s vote against her historic nomination,” the release states. “Sen. Scott has refused to meet with Black clergy to discuss our concerns, so tomorrow, many members of the clergy will make their concerns known publicly to Sen. Scott.”

Scott defended vote against Jackson

Earlier this month, Scott talked about why he did not vote for Jackson because he believes her judicial philosophy is “inconsistent [with] what is in the best interest of our judiciary.”

“The historic nature of Judge Jackson’s nomination reinforces the progress our country has made,” Scott said in a statement. “However, ideology must be the determining factor—not identity—when considering such an important lifetime appointment…I remain disappointed that President Biden missed the opportunity to unite the country with a mainstream nominee that could have received resounding bipartisan support. For all these reasons, I will be voting no on Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

Scott called Jackson a nice person who is well educated but said it is her judicial philosophy, “not who she is, but her ideology,” was where the focus should be placed.

“But at the end of the day, I’m not looking for someone to have a Coca-Cola with. I’m looking for someone who will rule in favor of America’s future. I don’t see that in this judge,” Scott said.

Both Scott and fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed disappointment in Februrary when President Joe Biden selected Jackson over a South Carolina judge, J. Michelle Childs, who was another possible finalist to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

“As a fellow South Carolinian and the product of some of America’s finest public schools, I believe Judge Michelle Childs would have been an excellent nominee to our nation’s highest court,” Scott said at the time of Biden’s selection. “I am disappointed that President Biden missed the opportunity to nominate a highly-qualified judge who would have garnered widespread bipartisan support.”

Jackson once worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks early in her legal career. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and for law school, and served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy, before becoming a federal judge in 2013.

At 51 years old, she would be one of the youngest justices on the bench. Members serve for life, or until they chose to retire.

Graham also defended his vote against Jackson’s nomination, saying his vote was based upon Jackson’s “record of judicial activism, flawed sentencing methodology regarding child pornography cases, and a belief that she will not be deterred by the plain meaning of the law when it comes to liberal cases.”

“I found Judge Jackson to be a person of good character, respected by her peers, and someone who has worked hard to achieve her current position. However, her record is overwhelming in its lack of a steady judicial philosophy and a tendency to achieve outcomes in spite of what the law requires or common sense would dictate,” Graham said. “After a thorough review of Judge Jackson’s record and information gained at the hearing from an evasive witness, I know why Judge Jackson was the favorite of the Radical Left.”

Copyright 2022 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.