Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, cited Critical Race Theory founder Derrick Bell and the controversial “1619 Project” as inspirations in 2020.
During a lecture to the University of Michigan Law School in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, unearthed by the Daily Wire, Judge Jackson, who would be confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit the following year, cited Bell’s book, Faces at the Bottom of the Well, and said her parents had it on their coffee table as she was growing up:
Dr. Janet Bell’s late husband, Professor Derrick Bell, who was a civil rights lawyer and the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School, wrote a book in the early 1990s about the persistence of racism in American life that he entitled “Faces At the Bottom of the Well.” [slide] My parents had this book on their coffee table for many years, and I remember staring at the image on the cover when I was growing up; I found it difficult to reconcile the image of the person, who seemed to be smiling, with the depressing message that the title and subtitle conveyed. I thought about this book cover again for the first time in forty years when I started preparing for this speech, because, before the civil rights gains ofthe 1960s, black women were the quintessential faces at the bottom of the well of American society, given their existence at the intersection of race and gender — both of which were highly disfavored characteristics.
The book argues that other Americans define their identity in relation to black Americans, who are forced to stay at the bottom of society. In one chapter, “The Space Traders,” Bell created a fictional allegory in which the U.S. would agree to sell its black citizens to space aliens in exchange for gold that would help settle the national debt.
Christopher Rufo, a journalist who has focused on revealing the use of Critical Race Theory in schools and the workplace, has noted that Bell did not merely treat “The Space Traders” as a thought experiment, but believed it represented the true state of race relations in America.
This isn't just metaphorical. Bell told NPR's Fresh Air he believed whites would make the trade in real life. He argued in the book that the history of slavery was not only "an example of what white America has done," but "a constant reminder of what white American might do."
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 17, 2022
Judge Jackson also cited the fraudulent “1619 Project” of Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times, which won the Pulitzer Prize despite falsely claiming that the United States fought the American Revolution to defend slavery in the South.
Though she cited Hannah-Jones to make the observation that black Americans have fought hardest to give life to America’s founding ideals, at no point did Judge Jackson disagree with the author’s thesis that America was founded on slavery.
Judge Jackson closed her lecture by citing what she called “favorite civil rights photograph of modern times” — an image of a 2016 protest over the police shooting of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
"Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans is detained by Baton Rouge police in Louisiana, July 2016. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters" via 2019 How a decade of disillusion gave way to people power, Rebecca Solnithttps://t.co/WOGgx7Q6M2 pic.twitter.com/usl18LrP17
— MillerK2100 (@MillerK2100) June 7, 2020
Both were early icons of the Black Lives Matter movement, though both had been armed when they resisted arrest and were killed. Sterling was shot during in a struggle with police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after allegedly threatening a homeless man at a convenience store; Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Minneapolis after the officer allegedly saw him with his hand on his gun as he sat in his car. The officers involved in Sterling’s killing were not charged, for lack of evidence; the officer in the Castile shooting was acquitted of manslaughter.
Judge Jackson did not comment on the shootings, but said she was inspired by the woman, who was arrested at the protest.
Jackson’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Monday, March 21, at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.