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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings: What happened Monday

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill March 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, will begin four days of nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Monday in Washington, D.C.

Day 1 of the confirmation hearing of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the federal judge President Biden nominated to fill Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's seat when he retires this summer, has concluded.

It was, as presiding Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., put it "in a way ... the easiest day," as it consisted of opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Jackson herself.

Jackson faces a marathon of questioning from senators on Tuesday.

Here are some highlights from Monday's hearing:

The historic nature of Jackson's nomination was not lost among the bipartisan panel. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J, said Jackson's nomination "breaks an artificially confining mold of our past and opens up a more promising, potential-filled future for us all as Americans." Booker also shared a story of Jackson's daughter, who wrote to former President Barack Obama to recommend her mother for a job: Supreme Court justice.

Republicans previewed criticism they'll lodge at Jackson in the next two days of questioning. Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee both expressed concerns over what they see as Jackson's lenient sentencing of child pornography defendants. The White House and fact-checkers have pushed back at these assertions.

At the same time, Democrats tried to preemptively rebut potential criticism, saying charges that Jackson is "soft on crime" are "baseless." Democrats called on critics to look at Jackson's record, which Durbin said had already been "scoured by this committee" in confirming Jackson for previous positions.

The memory of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's own confirmation hearing loomed large with various Republican senators recalling his prolonged confirmation experience after allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct and assault from when he was in high school and college. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham pledged to Jackson that she wouldn't be " vilified" the way he believes Kavanaugh was.

Talk of "dark money" was featured in various opening statements of the day with senators from both parties decrying its role in the confirmation process. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the panel, expressed concern over Demand Justice, a liberal group that suggested potential nominees when Breyer announced his retirement. Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island claimed politically right groups have outsized power in debates over judicial nominations.

Democrats hope to confirm Jackson by Easter. Here's a look at how long it takes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.