1/ The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first day of confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden’s Supreme Court pick. Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, pledged to decide cases “without fear or favor” if confirmed, and vowed to make equal justice “a reality and not just an ideal.” Jackson told a divided Senate panel she was an independent thinker who decides cases “from a neutral posture,” and that she hoped to embody the “skill and integrity, civility and grace” of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she seeks to succeed. Sen. Josh Hawley, meanwhile, attacked Jackson in his opening statement, accusing her of issuing “lenient” sentences in child pornography cases as a trial judge. The White House called Hawley’s criticism “toxic and weakly presented misinformation,” adding that in the vast majority of Jackson’s cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences she imposed “were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. Probation recommended.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN)
2/ Justice Clarence Thomas was hospitalized with an infection after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Thomas, the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court and second-oldest justice, is being treated with intravenous antibiotics and his symptoms are reportedly improving. His illness is not related to Covid-19. (ABC News / Washington Post / USA Today)
3/ A federal judge ruled that former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis knowingly violated the rights of same-sex couples by denying them marriage licenses. The ruling clears the way for a jury trial seeking damages against Davis as an individual. In 2015, Davis repeatedly refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Kentucky, despite the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage and a letter from the governor instructing all county clerks to issue the licenses. Davis claimed that issuing the licenses would violate her Christian values. (NBC News / CNN / NPR)
4/ Biden warned that Russia is “exploring options for potential cyberattacks” against the U.S., advising U.S. companies to “harden your cyber defenses immediately.” In updated national cybersecurity guidance, the administration said Russia “could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States […] as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed” in response to the Ukraine invasion. A senior NATO intelligence official, meanwhile, said the Russia-Ukraine war was “rapidly approaching” a stalemate, adding that “neither side here can win. Neither side will capitulate.” Separately, the U.S. sent Soviet-made air defense systems it had secretly acquired decades ago to Ukraine to help the country establish a de facto no-fly zone. (Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNBC / New York Times)
5/ The House passed the Crown Act, which would ban “discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair.” Crown stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, and now goes to the Senate. (NBC News)
6/ Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is under investigation for alleged voter fraud in North Carolina. The investigation comes after it was reported that Meadows registered to vote shortly before the 2020 election at a mobile home in Macon County, where he never lived or visited. Macon County District Attorney Ashley Welch requested the probe. (CNN / Salon)
7/ Mark Meadows was reportedly involved in efforts to encourage Trump’s supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a person who overhead the conversation that took place on a speakerphone. Scott Johnston, who worked on the team that helped plan the Ellipse rally, said he overheard Meadows, and Katrina Pierson, Trump’s national campaign spokeswoman, talking with Kylie Kremer, the executive director of Women for America First, about plans for a march to the Capitol and how to “make it look like they went down there on their own.” Johnston testified to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack in December. (Rolling Stone / Washington Post)
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