By MARY CLARE JALONICK – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats say they are hoping for a bipartisan vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
It won’t be easy, but some Republicans have expressed openness to voting for Biden’s nominee, who currently sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and would be the first black woman on the Court. supreme. Republican senses Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voted last year to confirm Jackson in his current position.
As senators consider Jackson’s record in the days and weeks ahead, some Republicans may hint that they are ready to vote for Jackson, who would replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer. But senators from both parties often withhold support until they meet with the nominee and confirmation hearings take place.
Democrats will also be keeping tabs on their own moderate flank, the Senses. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Neither has indicated, so far, that they would vote against Biden’s choice, and they have voted for all of his other nominees.
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Senators to watch as the confirmation process begins:
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-MAINE
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin made one of his first calls to Collins after Justice Stephen Breyer announced in January that he would retire this summer. The Maine senator, who voted against Justice Amy Coney Barrett, former President Donald Trump’s 2020 Supreme Court nominee, may be Democrats’ best chance for a Republican crossover vote.
“I’m reaching out to Republicans and saying the candidate will be available for you to get to know them” and answer any questions, Durbin said then of his conversation with Collins, who is a moderate. She replied that she appreciated the offer.
Collins called on Democrats to take the process deliberately and slowly, as they have made it clear they want to move quickly. Asked about Jackson before her appointment, Collins said she would “definitely give her full attention,” but hadn’t met her personally and would have to look at her more recent file. On Friday, Collins said she would do a “thorough check” and meet with the candidate in the coming weeks.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, RS.C.
Graham pushed Biden to pick a South Carolina — federal district court judge J. Michelle Childs. While the White House said Childs was under consideration, the president ultimately chose the more experienced Jackson.
Unlike almost all of his current colleagues, the mercurial Graham has long said that the Senate should confirm a president’s nominees, regardless of party. And along with Collins and Murkowski, he is one of the only Republicans to have voted for many of Biden’s lower court picks. But he said earlier this month that if the candidate were not Childs, who he considers more moderate than Jackson, his vote would be more “problematic”.
Graham said he was also pushing Childs because she hadn’t attended college or law school at Harvard or Yale, unlike Jackson and nearly every judge on the court. “The Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run tirelessly,” Graham said in a statement after Biden’s announcement on Friday.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, R-ALASKA
Along with Collins, Murkowski is one of the more moderate Republican members of the Senate and has expressed concerns about whether the court might overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade guaranteeing the right to abortion. But she is up for re-election this year in her conservative state, and she has signaled that she may not be inclined to cross party lines.
In a statement Friday, she said she looked forward to meeting Jackson, but “I have made it clear that voting previously to confirm an individual to a lower court does not signal how I will vote for a judge of the Court. supreme.” She added that “being confirmed to the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land and a lifetime appointment – is an incredibly high bar to achieve.”
In January, she told Alaska station KDLL that “there’s a pretty tangible difference between being in district court, circuit court, and the Supreme Court.”
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA
Grassley, the top Republican on the judicial panel, is a longtime member of the committee and oversaw the confirmation of two of Trump’s three picks as president at the time. He will almost certainly vote against Jackson’s nomination, but his role will be important nonetheless as Republicans strategize how much to criticize her and whether to remove procedural hurdles to slow the nomination.
Durbin said he and Grassley were good friends and stayed in touch throughout the process. They traveled to the White House together earlier this month to discuss the choice with Biden, who served in the Senate with both of them.
In a statement Friday, Grassley praised Jackson and said he had “no intention of degrading the advisory and consenting role” of the Senate, referring to bitter confirmation battles over Trump’s three court nominees. supreme. While some Democrats have speculated that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee may boycott a committee vote, a move that could delay confirmation, Grassley said he intends to “show up and do the work for which the Iowans pay me”.
REPUBLICAN SENATE LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.
Like Grassley, McConnell is unlikely to vote for Jackson. But his comments on his nomination will tell the rest of the conference how to proceed as they decide how aggressively to oppose him.
In a statement Friday, McConnell questioned Jackson’s productivity on the appeals court and the support she enjoys from some liberal advocacy groups. But he also tried to dissuade his colleagues from bringing up his race after several of them criticized Biden for saying he would nominate a black woman.
“I honestly didn’t think it was inappropriate,” McConnell said earlier this week. He promised that the candidate would be “respectfully considered”.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, DW.VA., and SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA, D-ARIZ.
Manchin and Sinema have drawn the ire of liberal groups and many of their fellow Democrats after helping block a wide range of Biden’s signature policy goals. But that opposition did not trickle down to Biden’s judicial nominees, as both senators voted for each.
Neither has indicated they will oppose their choice at the Supreme Court. Manchin said on a West Virginia radio show last month that “it would be the character of the person” that would count, even if the candidate is more liberal than he is. On Friday, Manchin said he would review Jackson’s legal qualifications and legal philosophy and meet with her “before determining whether to give my consent.”
Sinema said in a statement that Jackson’s nomination “represents a historic step for our country” and that she will consider him based on his “professional qualifications, believes in the role of an independent judiciary and can be trusted to interpret and faithfully defend the rule of law.”
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