Senate starts voting Monday on Jackson’s Supreme Court bid

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the action at 10 am, with its 22 members debating Jackson’s credentials and qualifications for sitting on the nation’s highest court. Jackson, 51, was confirmed to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit less than a year ago after nearly a decade as a federal trial court judge in Washington.

In remarks ahead of the vote, Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called the panel’s vote a “historic moment” in a nod to the pathbreaking nature of Jackson’s nomination. He praised her “impeccable qualifications” and said she would bring “the highest level of skill, integrity, civility and grace” to the court.

“Hers is a uniquely American family story, how much hope and promise can be achieved in just one generation,” he said. “I’m proud we can bear witness to it.”

The Judiciary Committee — which, like the full Senate, is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans — is almost certain to deadlock 11 to 11 on her nomination. That will force Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) to put a measure on the Senate floor discharging Jackson’s nomination from the committee, a vote that is expected to occur Monday evening. Her final confirmation vote for her on the Senate floor would happen Thursday or Friday.

As the Senate heads into the final week of Jackson’s confirmation battle, the last-minute deliberations of a handful of GOP senators are being watched closely to see whether her support will grow beyond one Republican.

Their decisions will come after two days of tense hearings last month where several Republican senators sharply grilled Jackson on her record as a trial judge — particularly her sentencing decisions in some child pornography cases. Multiple GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Have cited that record in their opposition to her, calling her “soft on crime” as Republicans across the country gear up to run on that issue in November’s midterm elections.

At Monday’s meeting, Durbin had pointed out comments for some Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. Without naming names, he took umbrage at those who “repeatedly interrupted and badgered Judge Jackson and accused her of vile things in front of her parents, her husband and her children de ella.”

“It is unfortunate that some moments in our hearing came to that,” he said. “But if there is one positive to take away from these attacks on her de ella, it is that the nation saw the temperament of a good, strong person ready to serve on the highest court of the land.”

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, announced his expected opposition to Jackson at the top of the hearing, citing “fundamental different views on the role of judges and the role that they should play in our system of government.”

Grassley accused her of being evasive under questioning and of adopting a “lenient approach to criminal law and sentencing.” He focused not on her child pornography cases, but on her decision to reduce the felony sentence of a self-described drug kingpin under the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill passed during the Trump administration.

Jackson, Grassley said, made “a terrible and dangerous misinterpretation” of the law in choosing to halve the sentence of Keith Young, who was serving a 20-year term for drug trafficking and firearms convictions. Jackson defended her decision during her hearings last month, saying that the sentence reduction was permissible under the law and justified by the circumstances of the case.

“We need confidence that judges will interpret the law as they’re written,” Grassley said. “Judge Jackson’s reinterpretation law I helped to write doesn’t give me that confidence.”

Although Romney opposed Jackson’s elevation to the federal appeals court last year, he has stressed that he comes into this confirmation round with an open mind, and he is being heavily courted by the judge’s supporters.

With Collins’s support, Jackson is expected to get at least 51 votes in the evenly divided Senate, meaning Vice President Harris will not have to break a tie.

“What I know is, she will get enough votes to get confirmed. In the end, I suppose, that’s the only thing that matters,” Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But I wish more Republicans would look at the case here, look at the record and vote to confirm Judge Jackson.”

If Jackson is confirmed as expected, her ascent to the Supreme Court is likely to be a key element of President Biden’s legacy, in no small part because he would be installing the first Black woman in the court’s more than two centuries of existence.

The confirmation battle shows how much more partisan Supreme Court nominations have become in recent decades. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, nominated by President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed 98 to 0 in 1986. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated by President Bill Clinton, was confirmed 96 to 3 in 1993.

These days, any Supreme Court confirmation vote is almost certain to fail largely along partisan lines, reflecting the deepening polarization of the country—and the Senate.

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) — one Republican whom Democrats had seen as a long-shot “yes” vote, in part because he is retiring and did not have to fear political consequences — announced on Sunday that he would oppose her confirmation of her.

Blunt applauded her historic nomination and said she was “certainly qualified” to serve on the court. But he cited Jackson’s judicial philosophy of her in explaining his opposition to her, suggesting she did not adhere to the strict words of the Constitution.

Her “judicial philosophy seems to be not the philosophy of looking at what the law says and the Constitution says and applying that, but going through some method that allows you to try to look at the Constitution as a more flexible document, and even the law , and there are cases that show that that’s her view,” Blunt said, also on “This Week.”

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