Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she will vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the US Supreme Court, giving bipartisan support for President Joe Biden’s first nominee to the high court.
Jackson is now all but guaranteed to become the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice.
“After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Collins said in a statement Wednesday.
“I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position,” the centrist senator from Maine said.
After emerging from a grueling week of confirmation hearings with few scars, the 51-year-old federal judge was expected to be confirmed even if no Republicans in the evenly-split Senate voted for her.
But Collins’ announcement, coupled with the expected unanimous support from Senate Democrats, likely eliminates the need for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm Jackson.
Two other moderate Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Utah’s Mitt Romney, have not yet revealed how they plan to vote on Jackson’s nomination.
Collins first shared her decision in an interview with The New York Times that was conducted Tuesday evening after Jackson met the senator for a second one-on-one meeting on Capitol Hill.
The senator’s statement Wednesday morning said the two “discussed in depth several issues that were raised in her hearing,” and that they did not always agree.
“I have no doubt that, if Judge Jackson is confirmed, I will not agree with every vote that she casts as a Justice,” Collins said. “That alone, however, is not disqualifying.”
The confirmation process, as it has unfolded over the last few Supreme Court nominations, “is broken,” the senator’s statement said.
Collins stressed her view that under the Constitution, the role of the Senate in Supreme Court confirmations “is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee. It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want.”
“This approach served the Senate, the Court, and the Country well. It instilled confidence in the independence and the integrity of the judiciary and helped keep the Court above the political fray,” she said. “And this is the approach that I plan to continue to use for Supreme Court appointments because it runs counter to the disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial appointment process.”
Collins broke with GOP leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said last week he would vote against Jackson’s confirmation.
Collins previously cut against her party when she opposed then-President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett. The senator cited a rushed confirmation that came days before the 2020 presidential election.
The Maine senator was also one of three Republicans, along with Murkowski and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to vote last year for Jackson to become a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. As a Supreme Court candidate, however, Jackson appeared to lose Graham’s support.
The Senate Judiciary Committee aims to vote on Jackson’s nomination on April 4. If it passes, the nomination will move to a final vote in the full Senate, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is expected to schedule for no later than April 8.
Last week, Jackson endured two exhausting days of questioning before the Judiciary committee in public hearings that frequently grew tense and emotional.
In just those two sessions, Jackson spent more than 20 hours fielding dozens of questions from Republicans, who grilled her on a range of judicial issues and used the spotlight to air a laundry list of conservative social issues.
The panel’s Democrats heaped praise on Jackson and often leapt to her defense against the Republicans’ criticism.
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