WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday, securing her place as the first black woman in the high court and giving bipartisan support to President Joe Biden for her historic election.
Three Republican senators have said they will support Jackson, who will replace Justice Stephen Brayer when he retires this summer. While the vote will go far beyond the irresistible bipartisan assurances for Breyer and other justices over the decades, it will be a significant bipartisan achievement for Biden in the narrow 50-50 Senate, despite the GOP senators working aggressively to portray Jackson as too liberal and soft. On crime
“It will be a happy day,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in announcing Thursday’s vote on Wednesday evening. “Joy for the Senate, joy for the Supreme Court, joy for America.”
Jackson, a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge, will be the third black judge and sixth woman after Thergood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. He will be joined by two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of the 6-3 Conservative Court. Justice Amy Connie is sitting on the other end of the Barrett bench, four of the nine judges will be women for the first time in history.
After a grueling hearing where Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee aggressively questioned Jackson over his sentencing record, three GOP senators came out and said they would support him. Statements from Maine Sen Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney all said the same thing – they may not always agree with Jackson, but they think he is qualified enough for the job.
Both Collins and Murkowski condemned the increasingly biased confirmation process, which Collins called “broken” and Murkowski called it “erosive” and “further detached from reality over the years.”
Biden, a veteran of the bipartisan Senate, said from the start that he wanted the support of both sides for the nominee to make his history, and he invited Republicans to the White House as soon as he made his decision. It was an attempt to reinstate three brutal Supreme Court battles during President Donald Trump’s presidency, when Democrats vehemently opposed the nominees, and since the end of President Barack Obama, when Republicans barred Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from voting.
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Jackson said his life was shaped by his parents’ experience with legal racial segregation and civil rights law a decade before his birth.
Sitting behind her with her parents and family, she told the panel that her “path was clear” as a black American. Jackson attended Harvard University, worked as a public defender, worked for a private law firm, and was a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in addition to his nine years on the federal bench.
“I’ve been a judge for almost a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my responsibility very seriously to be independent,” Jackson said. “I will decide the case in a neutral manner. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath. “
After being sworn in, Jackson will be the second youngest member of the court after Barrett, 50. He will join a court where no one is yet 75 years old, the first time this has happened in almost 30 years.
Jackson’s first term will be marked by race-related lawsuits in both college admissions and suffrage. He has promised to sit outside the court’s consideration of Harvard’s admissions process since he is a member of its board of overseers. But the court could split a second case involving a challenge to the North Carolina University admissions process, which could give him weight on the issue.
Republicans have held a hearing on a federal bench questioning his sentencing record, in which he argued that the sentence he handed down in a child pornography case was too light. Jackson backtracked on the GOP narrative, declaring that “nothing could be further from the truth” and explained his argument in detail. Democrats say he agrees with other judges in his decision.
Questioning the GOP on the Judiciary Committee has stuck for many Republicans, though, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said in a floor speech Wednesday that Jackson “has never been tough in this area.”
Democrats have criticized Republicans for questioning.
“You can try and make a Straw Man here, but don’t get caught,” Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey said in a committee vote earlier this week. The panel was at a standstill on the 11-11 nomination, but the Senate voted to remove it from the committee and proceeded with its confirmation.
At an emotional moment during last month’s hearing, Booker, who himself is Black, told Jackson that he was moved to see her testify. He said he saw “my ancestors and yours” in his picture.
“But don’t worry, my sister,” Booker said. “Don’t worry. God has found you. And how do I know? Because you are here, and I know what you have done to get that seat. “