I'm not a biologist': Is SCOTUS nominee Jackson right refusing to define ‘woman’?


Fact Box

  • Ketanji Brown Jackson serves as a judge in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and previously worked as a federal judge on the District Court after nomination by President Barack Obama in 2013. 
  • During Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing on March 22, 2022, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked Jackson to define the word “woman” after quoting Ruth Bader Ginsberg that “there are physical differences between men and women that are enduring.” Jackson replied, “I can’t [...] Not in this context. I’m not a biologist. [...] If there is a dispute about a definition, people make arguments and I look at the law and I decide.”
  • Woman’ is defined as “an adult female person.” ‘Female’ is defined as “a person bearing two X chromosomes in the cell nuclei and normally having a vagina, a uterus and ovaries, and developing at puberty a relatively rounded body and enlarged breasts, and retaining a beardless face; a girl or woman.”
  • On February 25, 2022, President Biden nominated Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court as the “first Black woman” to be nominated in that position. She will replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer along the lines of his campaign promise
  • Based on an early March 2022 Gallup poll, Judge Jackson has a 58% approval rating with 88% support from Democrats, 55% Independents, and 31% from Republicans.

Siam (Yes)

With every SCOTUS nominee by either party, it is expected the individual will be asked all types of questions during the confirmatory hearings. However, despite a law degree from Harvard and solid legal experience, Ketanji Brown Jackson was recently asked to define the word 'woman.' Her response was perfectly reasonable, as she simply stated she is not a biologist.

As the last several years have seen the emergence of many gender identities besides the traditional male and female, this has created a great deal of confusion even among biologists. The difficulty in defining gender has even transcended sports, universities, and the workplace. There are constant arguments about the biological groundings of one's gender identity, so if scientists themselves are unable to answer these questions, how does a senator expect a judge to be able to define the word 'woman.' Jackson clearly stated that in order for her to define the term 'woman' it had to be based in a certain context of the law. She stated that she had been trained as a judge and addresses disputes—not determining biological definitions. Jackson said at her hearing how she reads up on the law if there is a dispute about a definition before making any decision. She goes on to state that these are hotly debated topics today and will come to court where they will be discussed.

In the end, it is important to know that Jackson does know what a woman is, as she is one. The real problem here is that she was asked a ridiculous question in an attempt by Republicans to derail a potential democratic nominee.

Curtice (No)

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s refusal to answer a simple request to define what constitutes a woman during her Senate confirmation hearing should have immediately disqualified her. Either she is severely out of touch with reality and thus unfit for the position, or she is an unabashed ideologue, which should equally disqualify her. Senator Blackburn asked Jackson the question after previously quoting the late and liberal SCOTUS icon, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who, in a 1996 case said, 'Physical differences between men and women are enduring. The two sexes are not fungible.' Jackson’s choice to obscure the question by stating she could not since she is 'not a biologist' should worry everyone who wants SCOTUS to remain free of judicial activism.

This is a high-profile issue today, coming on the heels of Lia Thomas' controversial win in the NCAA women's swimming championships. How she defines 'woman' is now and will be relevant in her deciding cases to be able to recognize a protected class of citizens in order to uphold their rights. Likewise, it is both curious and ironic that although Jackson refused to define ‘woman,’ she, the Biden administration, and the mainstream media has touted her as the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court.

While gender ideology is voiced loudly by activists and embraced by nearly every institution (from colleges to corporations to media companies and now the halls of Congress), it easily unravels under one simple question. Jackson’s refusal to answer reveals she’s more beholden to this radical ideology than she is to objective reality, science, and her professed Christian faith. She would be unfit to join the highest court of the land Americans depend upon to uphold the Constitution and basic concepts such as the material reality of a 'women' is.

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