Ketanji Brown Jackson: US Senate advances Supreme Court nomination
The chamber voted 53-47 to move the nomination to the floor after the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 11-11 on recommending her confirmation earlier in the day.
Also Monday, two additional Republicans – Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah – announced their support for Jackson’s confirmation, joining Senator Susan Collins of Maine in assuring Jackson’s final vote will be bipartisan.
Murkowski, who is up for reelection this year and faces a primary challenger backed by President Donald Trump, said her support rested on Jackson’s unquestionable qualifications and "my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees, which, on both sides of the aisle, is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year."
Romney said he had concluded that Jackson "is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor" who "more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity."
Democrats file discharge motion
Earlier in the day, however, partisan politics briefly delayed the confirmation process.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s 11-11 deadlock added another step for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who immediately filed a so-called discharge motion.
In floor remarks Monday afternoon, he said he would move "as quickly as possible" to "set up a final confirmation vote by the end of this week."
Although the split in committee was anticipated, the vote was delayed by a few hours when Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California had difficulties returning to Washington on Sunday.
Citing another passenger’s medical emergency that required his original flight to return to Los Angeles International Airport, a Padilla spokesperson said Monday the senator "boarded the first available flight this morning." After Padilla arrived in the afternoon, the committee was able to vote.
In speeches before the committee vote, Democrats on the panel praised Jackson’s qualifications and experience, while Republicans explained their opposition.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the committee chairman, called Monday’s vote a "historic moment for this committee and for America."
This is the first time the panel has considered a Black woman for a seat on the Supreme Court.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who voted to elevate Jackson to the DC Circuit less than a year ago but opposes her nomination to the Supreme Court, said "she would not have been before this committee" if Republicans were in charge of the Senate.
Monday’s deadlock is the first time the judiciary panel has split on a Supreme Court nominee in more than three decades.
In September 1991, when Biden chaired the committee, it voted 7-7 to send Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the floor with a favorable recommendation. That motion failed, but the committee voted 13-1 to send the nomination to the floor without recommendation, and Thomas was confirmed the following month, 52-48.
Schumer’s move toward a discharge motion is rare, but not unprecedented. An identical process played out during the nominations of Justice Department officials Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, as well as other judicial nominees who deadlocked in committee and are still awaiting confirmation.
The discharge process requires up to four hours of debate, equally divided between parties, and a simple-majority roll call vote.
According to the Congressional Research Service, William C. Micou in 1853 was the last Supreme Court nominee to be discharged. However, the full Senate never considered his nomination.
As soon as Tuesday, Schumer is expected to file cloture on Jackson’s nomination, kick-starting up to 30 hours of debate before two additional simple-majority votes: one to end debate and the other to confirm Jackson as retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s successor, likely before the end of the week.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire