Why this LDS, Republican, former federal judge backs Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court

Thomas Griffith laments that today’s “hyperpartisanship” would lead some to oppose this “highly qualified jurist.”

Retired federal Judge Thomas Griffith, a Latter-day Saint convert who stepped down from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2020, spoke on behalf of his former colleague, Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, on the first day of her confirmation hearings this week.

“Some think it noteworthy that a former judge nominated by a Republican president would enthusiastically endorse a nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president,” said Griffith, former general counsel for Brigham Young University. “That reaction is a measure of the dangerous hyperpartisanship that has seeped into every nook and cranny of our nation’s life and against which the framers of our Constitution warned us.”

There was a time “not so long ago when bipartisan support of the president’s nomination of a highly qualified jurist was regular order,” Griffith added Monday. “Antonin Scalia was confirmed by the Senate 98 to nothing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg by a vote of 96 to 3.”

An “indispensable feature of the republic the Constitution created is an independent judiciary of judges who have taken an oath,” he said, “not to a president or to a people, but to the American people.”

These thoughts echoed what Griffith said last month on The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Mormon Land” podcast.

There is no “Mormon approach to judging,” Griffith said. “When you take the oath of office to be a judge, your oath is to the Constitution and the laws of the United States. And that’s your primary obligation.”

In a 2021 BYU forum, he also mentioned the country’s toxic partisanship, adding that he hoped members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would help bridge that divide.

Latter-day Saints have a “special obligation to help lead the country out of it,” Griffith said. “If we’re going to do that, we’re not going to do it by doubling down on our prior political biases.”

If confirmed, Jackson would become the first Black female justice on the nation’s highest court.