Murkowski, Romney back Jackson, all but assure confirmation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney announced Monday night that they would vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, giving an explosion of bipartisan support to President Joe Biden’s candidate and assuring everyone that She will become First black woman justice.

Senators for Alaska and Utah announced their decisions ahead of a procedural vote to advance the nomination, and Democrats pressed for Jackson to be confirmed by the end of the week. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced last week that she would support Jackson, noting her “stellar qualifications” as a federal judge, public defender and member of the US Sentencing Commission.

All three Republicans said they did not expect Jackson to agree with all of the decisions, but found him highly qualified. Romney said that Jackson “meets the standard of excellence and integrity.” Murkowski said she would bring “a variety of experiences from the courtroom to the Supreme Court that few can match, given her background in litigation.”

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With the support of three Republicans in a 50-50 split Senate, Jackson is on a glidepath to confirmation and 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. Beyond the historical element, Democrats have cited his deep experience over nine years on the federal bench and his opportunity to become the first former public defender in court.

Both Collins and Murkowski said they believe the Senate nomination process has broken down as it has become more partisan over the past several decades.

Murkowski, who is up for re-election this year, said his decision rests partly on “my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court candidates, who are on both sides of the aisle, worse and worse.” The reality is getting more and more detached from the year.”

After the vote, Murkowski said he had “assumed a level of risk” but that “the three of us found ourselves in a place where I believe the candidate’s strengths, qualifications, are such that the court’s suitable for.”

Biden nominated Jackson to replace retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who will step down after the court session ends this summer. Biden has sought bipartisan support for his choice, repeatedly calling senators and inviting Republicans to the White House. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that administration officials would work by phone until the last minute to maximize support.

“Judge Jackson will bring extraordinary merit, profound experience and intelligence, and a rigorous judicial record to the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted earlier on Monday. “He deserves to be confirmed as the next justice.”

The Senate’s 53-47 vote was on Monday evening to “discharge” Jackson’s nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee, 11-11, after the panel’s impasse on whether to send the nomination to the Senate floor.

The committee vote, divided along party lines, was the first deadlock over the Supreme Court nomination in three decades.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he opposed Jackson’s nomination because “he and I have fundamentally different views on the role of judges and the role they should play in our system of government.” “

The committee had not stalemate since 1991, when Biden was chairman and a motion to send the nomination of current Justice Clarence Thomas to the floor with a “favourable” recommendation failed by a 7-7 vote. The committee then voted to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation, meaning it could still be brought to a vote.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky set the tone for much of his party last week when he said he could not support Jackson, following GOP concerns raised at hearings about his sentencing record and from liberal advocacy groups. citing their support.

Republicans in the judicial panel on Monday continued their push to paint Jackson as soft on crime, defending his oft-repeated questions about his conviction on sex offenses.

“The questions are not attacks,” said Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of several GOP senators on the panel, who hammered the point at a hearing two weeks ago.

Jackson pushed back on the GOP narrative, declaring that “nothing could be further from the truth” and detailing his reasoning. Democrats said she was in line with other judges in her decisions. And on Monday he criticized the inquiries from his GOP counterparts.

“You can try to make a straw man here, but it doesn’t hold up,” said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

The interrogation was filled with “absurdity of disrespect,” said Booker, who is also Black. He said he would be “happy” when Jackson is confirmed.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson expressed disappointment with the committee tie, even as he said Jackson had overcome a significant hurdle. He said “history will see” during the full Senate vote later this week.

Bohrer reported from Juno, Alaska. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Fernoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro and Josh Bock in Washington contributed.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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