Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz signaled they are firmly opposed to elevating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, airing suspicions Monday that her caginess about her judicial philosophy conceals an activist approach.

Cornyn, at the outset of her confirmation hearing, also said he’s “troubled” by her zealous defense of terrorists.
 
“I understand the importance of zealous advocacy. But it appears that sometimes this zealous advocacy has gone beyond the pale,” he said.

Both Texas Republicans framed the hearing as an assessment of Jackson’s philosophy. Cruz’s opening statement stopped just short of an outright indictment, though he raised serious doubts about her ability to exercise restraint if approved for a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.

“Will you follow the law?” he said, citing Second Amendment rights, religious liberty and other conservative priorities.

“Will a justice protect the rights of the people, the rights of state legislatures, to enact laws protecting innocent life, protecting unborn life, stopping abominations like partial birth abortion? Or will a justice view her job as a super legislator, striking down all such rights?” he said.

Jackson would be the first former federal public defender on the nation’s highest court, in addition to being the first Black woman.

Democrats lauded her qualifications and the historic nature of his nomination, and likely have the votes to put her on the high court, despite GOP attacks.

Both Texans are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has four days of hearings planned this week. Senators will start questioning Jackson on Tuesday.

Cornyn complained that she has “not so far provided us with much clarity” on her judicial philosophy, a reticence that has left him “a bit troubled.”

“Judge, I know you know that the courts are not designed to deliver particular policy outcomes, or to invent new rights out of whole cloth,” the Texas Republican said.

“Someone as accomplished as you are, who spent years engaging and thinking about our Constitution and laws has surely formed a judicial philosophy. This is not your first rodeo,” he said.

Cornyn, a former trial judge and justice on the Texas Supreme Court, said he has “deep respect for the adversarial system of justice” but worries that Jackson’s sympathy for criminals goes too far.

“I’m a bit of trouble by some of the positions you’ve taken and arguments that you’ve made representing people who have committed terrorist acts against the United States and other dangerous criminals,” he said.

Worse, Cornyn told Jackson, her sympathy for criminals “has bled over into your decision making process as a judge.”

Cornyn also indicated reservations because groups that support abortion rights, and “anti-religious liberty groups,” support her nomination and have poured millions of dollars” into efforts to sway public opinion in her favor.

Cruz noted that only 115 people have served on the Supreme Court and complained that until the 1960s and 1970s, most adhered the to law and constitution. Then, he said, the court “became a policymaking body” with far too many justices willing “to set aside the democratic decisions of the people and instead mandate the policy outcomes they themselves support.”

Cruz made clear that he feels no obligation to vote for confirmation just because a nominee is qualified, listing a number of instances in which President Joe Biden himself, as a senator, opposed clearly qualified nominees.

“Our Democratic colleagues have abandoned that standard long ago,” Cruz said.

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