Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during confirmation hearings with the U.S. Senate. Screenshot from U.S. Senate feed.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to a seat on the Supreme Court, she said Wednesday, becoming the first Republican to pledge her support for President Joe Biden’s pick to replace retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.
Collins, of Maine, said in a statement Jackson had “sterling” academic and professional credentials. Collins disagreed with Jackson occasionally during two private meetings, and would likely disagree with some of her decisions on the bench, she said.
“That alone, however, is not disqualifying,” she said. “Indeed, that statement applies to all six Justices, nominated by both Republican and Democratic Presidents, whom I have voted to confirm.”
The role of the Senate in considering Supreme Court nominees is to “examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee,” not for an ideological match, she added.
Collins called the confirmation process “broken,” which she said was partly caused by senators moving away from the “appropriate” way to evaluate nominees. Senators have generally been increasingly combative and voted along party lines more in the last two decades when it comes to confirming nominees to the high court.
Collins cited the 98-0 and 96-3 votes to confirm the late Justices Antonin Scalia in 1993 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1998 to say that senators from both parties used to support well-qualified nominees who did not share their ideology.
Collins’ support will make the vote to confirm Jackson bipartisan. The vote is otherwise expected to fall mostly along party lines. No other Republican has declared support for the nominee, and no Democrat has said he or she would vote against.
Collins was one of only three Republicans to vote to confirm Jackson for her current role on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the others.
Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was antagonistic while the panel questioned Jackson last week and seemed unlikely to vote to confirm the nominee.
Collins’ support likely means Jackson will not need Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie breaking vote to win confirmation from the evenly divided Senate. The Judiciary Committee may still deadlock along party lines when it votes Monday, which would require an additional floor vote to advance the nomination.
Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Collins did not mention that in her statement.
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