AP mocked for saying GOP opposes Ketanji Brown Jackson for having ‘too much empathy’

'You couldn't even parody this if you tried'

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The Associated Press (AP) was blasted by critics Friday for claiming that Senate Republicans oppose Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson because she "brings too much empathy to the job."

In a news article headlined "Supreme Court nominee’s ‘empathy’ is flashpoint for Senate," the AP seemed to laud Jackson for her "ability to empathize with another's plight" by referring to the quality as an "admirable tribute" and quoting former President Barack Obama in describing it as "an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes."

"Empathy is not a quality many Republican senators want to see in the next Supreme Court justice," the AP wrote. "Traditionally considered an admirable attribute, the ability to empathize with another’s plight has become a touchstone for GOP opposition to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson."

"Republicans lining up to oppose the historic nomination are warning that Jackson carries too much empathy to the job," it added. 

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes emotional as Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. 

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes emotional as Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 23, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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The article argued Jackson's confirmation hearings weren't the first time empathy was used as a "disqualifying weapon" against a nominee and said, "Republicans lodged similar arguments against another trailblazing minority woman nominated by a Democrat to the Supreme Court," referring to President Obama's nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The AP went on to briefly quote Republican senators who tied Jackson's past treatment of convicted child sex offenders to the judge using empathy when making decisions on cases rather than the law.  

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Critics on Twitter slammed the AP, focusing on one tweet in particular which made it sound as if Republican opposition boiled down to "Jackson brings too much empathy to the job." 

A Mar. 25 tweet from the Associated Press appears to knock Republicans for not celebrating the "empathy" of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Screenshot/Twitter)

A Mar. 25 tweet from the Associated Press appears to knock Republicans for not celebrating the "empathy" of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Screenshot/Twitter) (Screenshot/Twitter)

"I'm laughing so hard I'm crying," tweeted communications strategist Ellen Carmichael in response, before adding, "You couldn't even parody this if you tried."

Journalist Drew Holden compared it to another AP tweet from 2020, about now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett pledging as a nominee to "bring no personal agenda to the Supreme Court," and called the AP "partisan advocacy." 

National Journalism Center program director T. Becket Adams wanted the tweet framed and hung in "a media museum," while journalist Scott Greer argued the AP was doing the job of "state-run media."  

Some on Twitter mocked the AP's apparent bias against Republicans and celebration of empathy for "child predators." 

"The AP thinks having 'too much empathy' for child predators is a marvelous thing and not something to scoff at," wrote NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives to the office of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) for meeting on March 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives to the office of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) for meeting on March 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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"Republicans don't want #SCOTUS justices to have too much empathy towards child pornographers. I'd say that's a good thing, @AP," Rep. Vicky Hartrzler, R-Mo., responded, while Ohio Republican senate candidate Josh Mandel "fixed" the first sentence of the AP article to read, "Empathy FOR CHILD PREDATORS is not a quality many Republican senators want to see in the next Supreme Court justice."

Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich joked that Democrats should run their midterm election campaigns on the idea that Republicans weren't "empathetic enough to child pornographers."

Jackson concluded her final day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and, if confirmed, will be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Her confirmation appears likely with Democrats holding a slim majority and none indicating they will vote her down.