Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) got into a heated back-and-forth during the third day of confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nomination Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson over her judicial record.
Both Judiciary Committee members — Durbin is the chairman — got into a heated exchange when Durbin, whom Cruz accused of taking up some of his time with interruptions, tried to move on before the Texas Republican got an answer from Jackson over a question regarding a lighter sentence she imposed in a case involving child pornography.
Cruz was just nearing the end of his scheduled time, and Durbin moved to cut him off, Cruz objected, claiming that the chairman had already taken up some of his time with previous interruptions.
“You’ve been given extra time. You usually ask for it, you’re given it,” Durbin responded.
“Okay, I know you want to interrupt. I know you don’t like this line of questions —” Cruz continued.
“I just want you to play by the rules,” Durbin replied.
“I know you like to interrupt, but you’ve consumed a substantial question — time of my questioning,” Cruz noted in response. “I’m going to ask my questions and you can, if you want to testify, you’re welcome to.”
Cruz then turned back to Judge Jackson, laying out some of the details of a specific child pornography case in which Jackson had imposed the sentence.
“In the Stewart case, you said from the bench, ‘Thus, although this is not necessarily an atypical case, your child pornography possession crime was egregious in the court’s view,’” Cruz quoted.
“Okay, so this is a bad one. If you’re actually sentencing defendants, you said this was egregious. What did you sentence Stewart for? The guidelines said 97-121 months. Prosecutors said 97 months. You said, ‘It’s egregious,’ 6,700 images, and you come in at 57 months,” Cruz noted further before Durbin moved again to cut him off and attempt to hand it over to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
Cruz continued to talk over Durbin, saying that he would take an answer from Jackson on any of the cases he’d asked about, noting that he held out the specific one just as an example.
“You’re not recognized, Senator,” Durbin said.
Per The Daily Wire, the exchange went like this:
“Do you not want her to answer that question?” Cruz asked Durbin.
“You wouldn’t allow her anyway,” Durbin grumbled.
“Mr. Chairman, she may answer the question. I’ve asked her why she sentenced Stewart, an egregious —”
“Senator, you’re over time by two minutes,” Durbin interrupted again.
“Because you’ve interrupted me for two minutes,” Cruz replied. “Mister Chairman, will you allow her to answer the question, or do you not want the American people to hear why, with someone she described as an ‘egregious’ —”
“There comes a point, Senator, where you get a little bit —” Durbin interrupted.
“Chairman Durbin, will you allow her to answer the question?” Cruz asked again.
“You won’t allow her to answer the question,” Durbin objected.
The two senators continued to talk over each other as the chairman again attempted to hand off to Coons.
“Why are you not allowing her to answer the question? There’s not another Senator here that you’ve not allowed her to answer the question,” Cruz pressed further.
“You’re finished,” Durbin declared, as Cruz noted that he did not want to ask another question but simply get an answer to the one he asked.
“Why do you not want the American people to know what happened in the Stewart case? Or any of these cases? I’ve never seen the chairman refuse to allow a witness to answer a question,” the Texas Republican noted.
At that, Durbin grabbed his gavel and slammed it down a number of times, which prompted Cruz to respond, “You can bang it as loud as you want.”
Durbin told Cruz that he must follow the rules. Following another brief back-and-forth, Durbin again turned to recognize Coons.
“So no, you don’t want her to answer the question,” Cruz concluded.