Throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings this week to consider Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States, far-right Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee has interrogated Jackson with some of the hearings' most incendiary questions.
On the first day of hearings, Blackburn suggested Jackson's "personal hidden agenda" was to embed critical race theory into the American legal system. On the second day, Blackburn demanded Jackson define the word "woman" and suggested she was soft on child pornographers. All the while, the Senator heaped praise on Jackson's family and composure.
On Twitter, Blackburn's opposition to Jackson's appointment was even less restrained. The Senator's timeline has offered a steady stream of quips decrying Jackson's near-inevitable appointment to the Supreme Court.
One such criticism attempted to discredit the idea that Americans have a right to an abortion, or rather, a right not to bear children.
Blackburn erroneously cited the Constitution.
The Constitution grants us rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – not abortions.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) March 23, 2022
Blackburn insisted to her followers that "The Constitution grants us rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — not abortions."
There's just one problem: the famous phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" isn't in the Constitution—the document that forms the basis of government in the United States and the document that created Blackburn's very position. Those words are from the Declaration of Independence, the letter wherein the 13 original colonies unanimously asserted their rationale for breaking from Britain, citing its disregard for "self-evident" truths that governments must recognize to warrant the consent of the governed.
For many Americans, it's been a long time since a civics or American history class. But for a Senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee tasked with considering the nomination of a historic Supreme Court appointment?
Social media users thought Blackburn should've known better, and they were quick to point out the error.
No, it doesn’t.
You’re quoting the Declaration of Independence.#ReadTheConstitution https://t.co/23GnK0Rr9L
— Dr. Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) March 24, 2022
Imagine being a US Senator trying to come for one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees, but you don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
Confirm Judge #KetanjiBrownJackson & end this circus that the GOP is creating. https://t.co/u7my9Ubgxt
— Shevrin “Shev” Jones (@ShevrinJones) March 24, 2022
Knowing the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution should be a basic prerequisite to serving in Congress. https://t.co/ZTPiK0HA4K
— VoteVets (@votevets) March 24, 2022
You would think that after nearly 20 years in Congress a person would at least know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but here we are… https://t.co/b25VvmWRdO
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) March 24, 2022
Who’s going to tell her that line is actually from the Declaration of Independence & does *not* appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution? 🧐 https://t.co/oiWR1Hc07t
— Kate “Pre-order Ordinary Equality” Kelly (@Kate_Kelly_Esq) March 24, 2022
In Oregon, kids in eighth grade learn the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Senator Blackburn is welcome to audit an Oregon eighth grade US history class to improve her understanding of American civics. https://t.co/IvEZeXVEGm
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) March 24, 2022
But it wasn't just the conflation of documents that sparked reactions, it was the entire premise of Blackburn's argument.
setting aside the amusingly worrisome fact that she’s actually quoting the Declaration of Independence, i for one consider bodily autonomy to be the right to all three of those things. 🤷🏼♀️ https://t.co/I9thHEUz5D
— 𝙰𝚜𝚑𝚕𝚎𝚢 (@mxashleynicole) March 24, 2022
let’s put aside constitution vs DoI for a sec… still an asinine comment (whether you’re pro choice or not.) https://t.co/HzFmDLEDvL
— Monica Lewinsky (she/her) (@MonicaLewinsky) March 24, 2022
Besides the obvious wrong document, liberty is literally “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority”
Sooo yeah, the right to abortions is part of that… https://t.co/rKDPRnTx23
— Dan Parrish (@drdanmd) March 24, 2022
Today marks the final day of Judge Jackson's confirmation hearings, after which the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to advance her nomination to the Senate floor.