Fact Check-Photo of Sen. Marsha Blackburn was not captured at Justice’s Brown confirmation

An image of Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee has been miscaptioned online, with some users claiming it depicts her during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The picture shows Blackburn holding her right thumb and index finger touching, while the other fingers of the hand are held outstretched, resting on her arm.

“GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn flashing a white power symbol during Justice Jackson’s confirmation hearing,” reads part of a tweet that has been retweeted over 4,700 times ( here ).

Other examples can be found ( here ) ( here ) ( here ) ( here ).

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the gesture, also commonly used as an “ok” gesture, has been associated to white nationalism since 2017 after hoax posts in 4chan promoted the gesture as a hate symbol ( here ).

Contacted by Reuters, a spokesperson for Blackburn referred to the claim as “fabricated” and “beyond absurd and completely false”.

Reuters could not independently verify what, if anything, Blackburn meant with the gesture.

Regardless, the moment does not date from the confirmation hearings of Brown Jackson.

Rather, the image is from a hearing on the Department of Defense’s budget requests for fiscal year 2023, also held on April 7 ( here ).

C-SPAN footage shows Blackburn with her hand in this position while addressing U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, between the timestamps 2:41:01 and 2:42:11 ( here ).  

The gesture is also visible in a clip posted on Blackburn’s official Twitter account ( here ) (see around timestamp 1:30).

Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court in a milestone for the United States and a victory for President Joe Biden, who made good on a campaign promise as he seeks to infuse the federal judiciary with a broader range of backgrounds ( here ).

Blackburn attended the final vote of Jackson’s confirmation (hear roll call) ( ).


Missing context. This screengrab is from a video of a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, not the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Reuters was not able to independently verify what, if anything, Sen. Blackburn meant with her hand gesture.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .   

Editor’s note: This piece has been corrected to reflect Blackburn’s attendance at the confirmation vote and updated to add a statement from her spokesperson.