WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats are launching a whirlwind of voting and Senate floor action Monday, with the goal of confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman in the Supreme Court over the weekend.
The Senate Judiciary Committee began voting Monday morning on whether to move Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor. Democrats will then win a 50-50 Senate nomination, with a final vote to elect President Joe Biden to replace retired Justice Stephen Brayer.
After more than 30 hours of hearing and questioning by Republicans about her record, Jackson is on the verge of making history as the third black judge and the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Democrats – and at least one Republican – have talked about his nine years of deep experience on the federal bench and his chances of becoming the first former public defender in court.
Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that the high honor after the four-day battle hearing for Jackson was “evidence of the power he has brought to this nomination and the value he will bring to the Supreme Court.”
The judicial panel could cause a stalemate in Monday’s vote, 11-11, which means Democrats will have to spend extra hours on the Senate floor to “vacate” his nomination from the committee. While this will not delay the process for long, it is another blow to Democrats who hoped to convince Jackson with bipartisan support.
Delaware Sen. Chris Kuns, a Democrat on the Judiciary Panel, said a pass vote would be “a truly unfortunate sign of the continuing inactivity of our confirmation process.”
The committee has not had a stalemate over the nomination since 1991, when a proposal to send Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the floor with a “favorable” recommendation failed by 7-7 votes. The committee then voted to send the nomination without recommendation, which means it could still be put to a vote.
Either way, Democrats are prepared to spend Monday afternoon discharging if necessary. The Senate will then move on to a series of procedural steps before a final ratification vote over the weekend.
While none of the Republicans on the judicial panel are expected to support Jackson, Democrats will have at least one GOP vote on the floor – Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who announced last week that she would support the nominee. Collins said that although he may not always agree with her, Jackson “has the experience, qualifications and integrity to serve as an associate judge in the Supreme Court.”
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell set the tone for the party last week when he said he could not and would not support him, citing his sentencing record and the GOP concerns raised at the hearing about his support from the Liberal Advocacy Group.
Collins and Sense. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham Jackson were the only three to vote when the Senate confirmed her as an appellate court judge last year. Graham said Thursday that he would not support her this time; Murkowski says he is still making decisions.
Collins ‘support could probably prevent Democrats from using Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to secure President Joe Biden’s election, and Biden called Collins on Wednesday to thank Colin after his announcement, according to the senator’s office. The president called him at least three times before the hearing, part of a larger push for his historic nominee to win a bipartisan vote.
All 50 Democrats are expected to support Jackson, although one notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kirsten Cinema, he has not yet said how he will vote.
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