KBJ on definitions of woman, life: Hey, I'm not a biologist

KBJ on definitions of woman, life: Hey, I'm not a biologist

One would think that someone who’s being feted for her role as the first black woman to the court would have a definition that justifies the celebration. Instead, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson claimed last night to have no definition for the word “woman,” although she did tacitly concede that the answer could be found in the realm of biology rather than sociology.

Unfortunately for KBJ, that made her answer incoherent and Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s point all the stronger:

Rupar’s flabbergastation aside, Blackburn has this entirely correct. Jackson will be expected to rule on issues related to biological sex, such as Title IX enforcement — a particular issue at the moment that will almost certainly be heading to courtrooms. If the word “woman” and/or “female” have no meaning, then neither does a whole raft of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law. The administration just got done celebrating the Violence Against Women Act renewal, for instance. What does that mean if “woman” does not have a specific definition grounded in law? It’s not called the “Violence Against Persons Who Identify As Anything But Traditionally Male Law,” after all.

Besides, if Jackson insists that this question needs to go to a biologist, then the answer is clear for laypeople, too. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out biological sex in humans; that’s elementary-school biology, not Biology 640. Piers Morgan’s comment on this testimony sums the situation up well:

Exactly. It’s feigned idiocy, and nothing more, in service to feelings over facts. That may be what it takes for a progressive political activist to reach success these days, but it’s not a great look for a aspirational Supreme Court justice.

That’s not the only point of basic human biology that stumped Jackson. Sen. John Kennedy asked about the definition of life, which Jackson dodged in a more traditional manner:

At least at this point, Jackson didn’t refer the matter back to biologists, which would have infuriated pro-abortion activists. This is the more traditional dodge on the life question, which as Jackson notes the court is currently weighing in Dobbs. But in this case, too, Jackson would do better to at least ask a biologist or even a biology major this question so as to learn its answer before coming to the court.

Note, though, that Kennedy framed the original question to ask Jackson when she believed life began. The fact that she has no answer to her own belief, except to insist that she’d set it aside, is yet another example of incoherence. (Note also that this isn’t a question of belief at all anyway; it is a matter of biology and science, and life begins at conception when the fertilized egg establishes its separate DNA identity and begins to grow immediately.) If you don’t have a clear factual knowledge and you set aside your “belief,” what’s left?  Just the brute and arbitrary utilitarianism that has guided abortion law for fifty years.

Jackson started off the day better, but as John noted yesterday appears to have worn down as the session trudged into the evening. Blackburn and Kennedy exposed Jackson’s incoherence rather effectively, and perhaps enough to keep the number of Republicans crossing the aisle to two or less. Jackson will still get confirmed, but the luster is off, especially since we’re no longer celebrating the female aspect of her nomination. How can we celebrate what cannot be defined?

Maybe we should ask a doctor, although to be fair, they’re also pretty particular about answering questions, too.

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Ben Shapiro 12:01 AM on June 01, 2023