Suz Ex Machina
6 min readApr 8, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson and the Right’s Obsession to Define a ‘Woman’

Kevin Lamarque / Pool via Getty Images file

Republican senators of the “Wah, but they did worse to Brett Kavanaugh” persuasion had been grilling Ketanji Brown Jackson, trying to rake her over the coals, for days, going for a big win, ‘gotcha’ moment, whereas they could publicly unearth something unsavory about her personal or political positions to promply pounce upon. Ted Cruz, seemingly ever-paranoid about signs of CRT, prodded Ketanji Brown Jackson about whether babies are racist, in his ‘let’s just muddy the water and stir up some shit’ styled inquiries, while Josh Hawley grilled Ketanji about supposedly lenient, child pornography sentences, which ever-steady Brown Jackson, a mother of two daughters, family member to law enforcement officers, and endorsed by the Fraternal Order of the Police, noted that she abided by legal guidelines and precedents for sentencing. No fireworks there — just pissy little poofs that failed to spark a conflagration.

And then the piece-de-resistance moment that nearly made Cruz’s and Hawley’s questioning seem like a healthy slice of rational discourse, as the Tea Party, Trump- endorsed, Marsha Blackburn tried to go toe-to-toe with the highly accomplished, Harvard graduate, Ketanji Brown, JD by asking her to define what a woman is—I could practically hear Blackburn utter ‘Lea Thomas, trans athletes, and single-sexed bathroom legislation’ as she lobbed her bomb in Ketanji Brown Jackson’s lap and waited with bated breath. The unflappable Ketanji Brown Jackson simply indicated that she could not define a woman, and she is “not a biologist.”

The air in Blackburn’s question sputtered out like a balloon skittering along the ground until punctured by a thorny patch of weeds. Salivating, Conservative news sites were clamoring to rip Brown Jackson for deferring on this question, but how easy would it have been for anyone to step in the word and ideology mud trying to answer this question?

Blackburn provided a good question for all of us — even if I’m not particularly impressed by some of her credentials.


Should a woman be defined in terms of specific biological characteristics?

Nope, but let’s explore this for a minute. Do certain internal and external organs

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