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Supreme Court Hearings: Senate panel deadlocks on Ketanji Brown Jackson; confirmation on track

WASHINGTON – The Senate Justice Committee found itself deadlocked Monday, 11-11, over whether to send Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nominee to the Senate. However, Presidential candidate Joe Biden is still well on his way to being confirmed this week as the first black woman in the Supreme Court.

The committee’s tie was expected, as there is a uniform party split on the panel and all Republicans oppose Jackson’s candidacy to replace retired Judge Stephen Breyer. However, it was still a blow to Democrats who had hoped for strong bipartisan support – and it was the first time the commission had reached a stalemate in running for the Supreme Court in three decades.

To move forward, Democrats planned a new vote to “discharge” Jackson’s candidacy from the committee Monday night and then take a series of procedural steps over the next few days to get him through the Senate 50-50. With the support of at least one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Jackson is on track for confirmation by the end of the week.

“Judge Jackson will bring to the Supreme Court exceptional qualifications, deep experience and intellect, as well as a rigorous judicial background,” Biden wrote on Monday. “It deserves to be confirmed as the next justice.”

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 justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Democrats cite her deep experience of nine years on the federal bench and the opportunity to become the first former public defender on the floor.

Judicial Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Told Monday that Jackson has “the highest level of skill, integrity, courtesy and grace.”

“The work of this committee today is nothing short of history-making,” Durbin said. “I am honored to be a part of it. I will strongly and proudly support Judge Jackson’s candidacy.”

The committee’s top Republican, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, said he was opposed to Jackson’s candidacy because “she and I have fundamental, differing views on the role of judges and the role they should play in our governance.”

The committee has not reached a dead end since 1991, when Biden was chairman, and the proposal to send the current judge Clarence Thomas’s candidacy to the floor with a “favorable” recommendation failed with 7-7 votes. The committee then voted to send the nominee to the podium without recommendation, which means it could still be put to the vote.

Delaware Sen. Chris Koons, a Democrat on the committee, said last week that a tie for Jackson would be “a really unfortunate signal of the continuing descent into the confirmation process.”

So far, Democrats know they will have at least one GOP vote in the full Senate – Collins, who announced last week that she would support the candidate. Collins said that while they may not always agree, Jackson “has the experience, qualifications and integrity to act as a justice associate in the Supreme Court.”

It is unclear whether other Republicans will join her. Kentucky Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell set the tone for the party last week when he said he “can not and will not support” Jackson, citing GOP concerns at the hearing about her conviction history and its support by liberal defense groups.

Republicans on the panel continued their push Monday to label Jackson soft on the crime, defending their repeated questions about her conviction for sex crimes.

“Questions are not attacks,” said Marsa Blackburn of Tennessee, one of the many Republican senators on the panel who raised the issue at the hearing two weeks ago.

Jackson dismissed the GOP narrative, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.” Democrats said she agreed with other judges in her decisions. And on Monday they criticized the questions of their GOP counterparts.

“You could try to create a straw man here, but it doesn’t hold,” said New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker.

The interrogation was full of “absurdities of disrespect,” said Booker, who is also black, and said he would be “happy” when it was confirmed.

Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only three to vote for Jackson when the Senate confirmed her as a judge of appeals last year. Graham said Thursday he would not support her this time. Murkowski said he was still determined.

Collins’s support is likely to save Democrats from having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie vote to confirm Biden’s election, and the president called Collins on Wednesday to thank her. Biden had invited her at least three times before the hearings, as part of a major effort to win a bipartisan vote for his historic candidate.

All 50 Democrats are expected to support Jackson, although a notable Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kirsten Cinema, has not yet said how he will vote.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Supreme Court Hearings: Senate panel deadlocks on Ketanji Brown Jackson; confirmation on track Source link Supreme Court Hearings: Senate panel deadlocks on Ketanji Brown Jackson; confirmation on track

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