Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation all but assured after Murkowski, Romney back judge

Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney announced Monday night they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, giving President Joe Biden’s nominee a burst of bipartisan support and all but assuring she’ll become the first Black female justice.

The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked, 11-11, Monday in their vote to send Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor. But President Joe Biden’s nominee is still on track to be confirmed this week as the first Black woman on the high court.

The committee’s tie vote was expected, but it was still a blow to Democrats who had hoped for robust bipartisan support. Democrats maintain the goal of having Jackson confirmed by the end of the week.

Republican Senators express support

Murkowski and Romney said they will vote to confirm Brown Jackson’s “historic nomination” to the Supreme Court Monday evening ahead of a procedural Senate vote to advance the nomination.

The senators from Alaska and Utah join Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as Republicans who say they will support Jackson.

Jackson, a federal appellate court judge, was nominated by President Joe Biden to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

Murkowksi said her decision to support Jackson’s confirmation “also rests on my rejection of the corrosive politicization” of the Senate’s process for Supreme Court nominees, which she said is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.”

She said, “While I have not and will not agree with all of Judge Jackson’s decisions and opinions, her approach to cases is carefully considered and is generally well-reasoned.”

The GOP senators’ announcements come as Democrats are taking steps to confirm Jackson by the end of the week.

Biden works to deliver on campaign pledge

When presidential candidate Joe Biden made the promise to nominate a Black woman, what followed was Congressman Jim Clyburn’s famous endorsement, giving the reeling campaign new life.

Biden delivered on his campaign promise when he nominated Jackson in February.

But according to a recent Marquette University law school poll, Biden’s support among black adults has dropped 32 points since July— now down to 56 percent. Some Democrats believe it’s possible Jackson’s confirmation to the high court might re-energize those voters.

“I don’t want to predict voter behavior, but it certainly is something a lot of Americans are going to be proud of,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).

Where the vote stands

President Joe Biden urged senators to support her in a tweet as the committee meeting began.

“Judge Jackson will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous judicial record to the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next justice.”

The path to confirmation to the Supreme Court can be speedy or take months. (AP Graphic)

After more than 30 hours of hearings and interrogation from Republicans over her record, Jackson is on the brink of making history as the third Black justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Democrats — and at least one Republican — cite her deep experience in her nine years on the federal bench and the chance for her to become the first former public defender on the court.

Collins and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only three to vote for Jackson when the Senate confirmed her as an appeals court judge last year. Graham said Thursday he won’t support her this time around; Murkowski says she’s still deciding.

Collins’ support likely saves Democrats from having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick, and Biden called Collins on Wednesday to thank her after her announcement, according to the senator’s office. The president had called her at least three times before the hearings, part of a larger push to win a bipartisan vote for his historic nominee.

It is expected that all 50 Democrats will support Jackson, though one notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, hasn’t yet said how she will vote.

Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and just the third in history. Jackson would replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

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