WATCH: Sen. Ted Cruz presses Ketanji Jackson Brown on critical race theory

During Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination hearing on Tuesday, Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, veered from legal arguments to the heated debates over critical race theory, an academic area of study that examines the role of race in the founding of the U.S.

Watch the moment in the player above.

Displaying a stack of books on racism from the reading list at Georgetown Day School, a prestigious private campus where Jackson serves on the board, Cruz grilled the nominee for her views on the topic.

“I’ve never studied critical race theory, and I’ve never used it. It doesn’t come up in the work that I do as a judge,” Jackson told Cruz.

Cruz produced a poster-size page from “Antiracist Baby” by noted scholar Ibram X. Kendi and asked, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”

WATCH LIVE: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings — Day 2

“I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or though they are not valued, or though they are less than. That they’re victims, that they’re oppressors. I don’t believe in any of that,” Jackson said.

She had explained Georgetown was founded in 1945 during legal segregation, when white and Black families came together to educate their children. The board doesn’t make curriculum decisions.

Cruz and Jackson both attended Harvard Law, a year apart, and said they knew one another, though not well.

Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden in February to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman on the high court.

After opening statements from Jackson, her colleagues and the senators March 21, senators will spend two days questioning Jackson at length about her rulings and judicial philosophy. On the final day of the hearings March 24, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from friends and colleagues of Jackson about her temperament and approach to the law.

More on Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings from our coverage:

Support PBS NewsHour: