Opinion: Sen. Blackburn, let us define a woman for you - Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

AP Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta / Supreme Court Justice in waiting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson glances at members of the media Monday in Washington.

Dear Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn: We have a question for you and your closest, disrespectful GOP colleagues.

Question: How do you define "woman"?

Answer: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Let us just say this is a time when words - even 1,000 of them - hold no candle to pictures. In your mind's eye just think of us sending out the texting emoji of hands thrown into the air in joy, thanks and praise. Hallelujah!

But like the sports radio announcers of old, we'll also try to help you get the picture of Thursday's scene in the Senate chambers when Jackson, President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee to fill the shoes of retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, was confirmed by the Senate.

First-woman-ever Vice President Kamala Harris read the vote tallies - 53-47. The vote paves the way for Jackson to make history, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the nation.

The tally of yay votes included not one, not two but three Republican senators who voted to confirm Jackson in our nation's time-honored and constitutionally prescribed system of the Senate serving in its roll of "advise and consent."

Honorable Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Democrats to vote in favor of Jackson's confirmation.

Blackburn and Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty voted nay.

As the final numbers were called out, the handful of Republican lawmakers still in the chamber walked out. The only one who stayed and rose with the Democrats and onlookers to clap and cheer for more than a minute was Romney.

Our earlier question for Blackburn was in reference to her part in the general GOP effort to smear and belittle the jurist who in coming months and years will help decide some of the most important legal questions of our time, including LBGTQ and trans-sex sports cases.

After two long days in Jackson's confirmation hearing, Blackburn had this burning question: "Can you provide a definition for the word 'woman'?"

Some news reports described Jackson as appearing confused before she responded. We didn't see confusion. We saw a very smart attorney and judge looking at a grandstanding politician trying to muddy the water with one of the newest GOP tropes: transgender phobia.

But the very experienced U.S. Court of Appeals judge would not play Blackburn's silly game.

"Can I provide a definition?" Jackson echoed, the corner of her mouth lifting ever so slightly. "No, I can't. Not in this context. I'm not a biologist. Senator, in my work as a judge, what I do is address disputes. If there's a dispute about the definition, people make arguments and I look at the law," Jackson said.

Throughout the Senate vetting process, Senate Democrats praised Jackson as an exceptionally qualified, trail-blazing nominee whose depth and breadth of experience, including work as a federal public defender, would add a valuable and unique perspective to the bench.

A handful of Republicans, including Blackburn, asked inane questions and tried to inaccurately portray Jackson as weak on crime and lenient in sentencing child pornography cases. Jackson and Democrats forcefully - and successfully - pushed back on those accusations.

The confirmation is done. And done with three Republican votes.

The New York Times put it this way: "The vote was a bipartisan rejection of Republican attempts to paint [Jackson] as a liberal extremist who had coddled criminals."

At the Capitol, the galleries filled with supporters to witness the historic vote, and the chamber erupted in cheers at the reading of the vote.

Senators, staff and visitors jumped to their feet for a standing ovation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his gaggle of GOP whiners turned their backs and slowly walked out, leaving half of the Republican side of the chamber empty but for the clapping Romney.

Across the aisle, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin spied Romney alone. Manchin made his way across the room to stand with the Utah lawmaker.

Think of it as a new beginning - albeit one Blackburn will likely, sadly, never join.