FACT CHECK: Did Marsha Blackburn Make A Racist Gesture During Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court Confirmation Vote?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn making a “white power” gesture during a Senate vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Verdict: Misleading

The image shows Blackburn making the gesture while participating in a Senate Armed Services Committee proceeding, which occurred the same day as Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation vote. The gesture has several different meanings and is not exclusively a “white power” symbol, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Fact Check:

The Senate confirmed Jackson to be a Supreme Court justice in a 53 to 47 vote on April 7, making her the first black woman to serve on the court, CNN reported. Blackburn, along with all but three other Republican senators, opposed Jackson’s confirmation.

The Facebook image appears to show Blackburn making the “okay” hand gesture, which has been associated with and employed by white supremacists, according to the ADL. The gesture is also known to have other meanings, the ADL reports.

“This is a picture of Blackburn as the vote for the first black Justice of the supreme Court was being voted on,” reads the post’s caption.
“Do you see what she’s doing with her hands? That’s a racist white power hand signal.” (RELATED: Was Janice Rogers Brown The First Black Woman Nominated To The Supreme Court?)

The image is not from Jackson’s confirmation vote. A reverse image search revealed the photo stems from a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that took place the same day as Jackson’s confirmation vote. Blackburn, who is one of 13 Republicans on the committee, can be seen making the gesture in an April 7 YouTube video she posted to her account of the hearing. During the hearing, Blackburn questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley about sharing military intelligence with the Chinese government.

There are no credible news reports that state Blackburn intentionally or unintentionally formed the “Okay” symbol during Jackson’s confirmation vote. None of the senator’s social media posts mention her doing so or have issued a statement regarding the allegation.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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