Democrats see ‘no reason to wait’ in Supreme Court vote
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson began courting senators on Capitol Hill, arguing for her confirmation in private meetings as Democrats raced to push her through the Senate within weeks.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson began courting senators on Capitol Hill, arguing for her confirmation in private meetings as Democrats raced to push her through the Senate within weeks.
Senate Democrats concerned about their narrow 50-50 majority – Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie – announced on Wednesday that Jackson’s hearings will begin on March 21, just three weeks after President Joe Biden nominated her to replace outgoing judge Stephen Breyer. Aiming for confirmation in April, they are using Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s rapid confirmation ahead of the 2020 presidential election as a template for Jackson, who would be the first black woman to serve as a judge in the more than 200 years of history of the court.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin called the rapid confirmation process a “contemporary standard” Wednesday after meeting with Jackson in his office, while acknowledging that part of the reason for the rapid delay was due to the his party’s tenuous hold on the Senate.
“There’s no reason to wait,” Durbin said, although Breyer said he won’t come off the bench until the summer. He noted that the committee is also familiar with Jackson, who was just confirmed as an appeals court judge last year and had been confirmed by the Senate twice previously.
The accelerated timeline is just a byproduct of heightened partisanship and a decade of incremental rule changes in the once collegiate Senate. The majority party knows it can win confirmation with a simple majority, and bipartisan outreach is more symbolic than necessary. While the Senate once took up to two months to consider cases and credentials before questioning a candidate, Republicans held hearings just two weeks after Barrett was nominated to replace the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg then that the presidential election was looming.
Senators will have a little more time to review Jackson’s case, but not much.
There was little pushback from Republicans, who confirmed Barrett and two other justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, when they controlled the Senate and President Donald Trump was in power. While few GOP senators are expected to vote for Jackson, and several have questioned whether she’s too liberal, they haven’t spent much political energy opposing her, so far.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a GOP member of the judiciary panel, said, “I don’t think there’s a lot of mystery,” since Jackson isn’t new to the committee.
“Given that she’s not going to change the balance, the ideological balance on the pitch, I think people will be respectful, and they’ll do their due diligence and ask questions, but I think we all have a pretty good idea of what the outcome is likely to be, unless there’s a big surprise,” Cornyn said.
So far, there have been few surprises with Jackson, who served as a federal judge for nine years and is well-liked by members of both parties.
After his own meeting with Jackson, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would propose his nomination “in a fair but expeditious manner.”
He spoke about the candidate to reporters, saying she is “an optimistic person” who tries to see all sides of an issue. He said they talked a bit about his legal philosophy but mostly about his life and his family.
“You can see when you meet her that she has real empathy,” Schumer said. “I think that’s very important in a judge because you have two sides that go against each other on any issue, so you can empathize and walk in the other person’s shoes.”
Jackson also met with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Panel. Referring to the pitched partisan battles for Trump’s three nominees, particularly Kavanaugh, Grassley told reporters before his meeting that Republicans would treat Jackson with “dignity and fairness, and above all, with thoroughness.”
As is tradition, this month’s hearings will last four days, with opening statements on March 21 and testimony and questioning the following two days. The fourth day will include testimony from outside witnesses.
Biden spoke about Jackson and honored Breyer in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, calling the nominee “one of our country’s finest legal minds, who will carry on Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence. “.
In addition to his time as a federal judge, Jackson, 51, has previously worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks and served on the US Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy.
Biden said she was a “consensus builder,” noting her work as a private lawyer and as a federal public defender, and emphasized that she came from a family of public school educators and of policemen.
While the Democrats can win Jackson’s confirmation without the Republicans, assuming the caucus is present and healthy, they still hope to win GOP votes. Durbin said he was working toward that goal, predicting that “about half a dozen” GOP votes could be on the line.
Only the senses. Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham voted to confirm Jackson to the appeals court last year. Although Collins appeared willing to vote for Jackson again, Murkowski said in a statement last week that her previous vote did not mean she would be in favor this time.
Graham had lobbied for a different candidate from his home state, federal judge J. Michelle Childs, and expressed disappointment that she was not Biden’s choice.
Schumer said Jackson is someone who should appeal to all parties, noting his past as a public defender and support from some police groups, for example.
He said he hopes when Republicans meet her, “They’ll be as impressed as I am. She’s an amazing person.
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.