WASHINGTON- Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic rise to be the first black woman on the Supreme Court draws closer Monday when the Senate Judiciary Committee meets to vote on his nomination.
The 22-member panel, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, is expected to split along partisan lines when it meets at 10 a.m. Each of the senators who questioned Jackson during his confirmation hearings last month will have the opportunity to explain their decision before the committee proceeds to the final vote.
A tie vote will not prevent Jackson’s name from being forwarded to the full Senate for consideration and does not mean it will not be confirmed. Last week, GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced she would endorse Jackson, assuring bipartisan support for the nomination. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who frequently breaks with his party, also said he would vote for Jackson.
As a result, Jackson is virtually guaranteed to be confirmed as the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
But before the entire chamber can vote on the nomination, the 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the committee will offer their recommendation. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairs the committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a ranking member — top Republican.
REPUBLICAN SUPPORT:GOP Senator Susan Collins will vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, bipartisan support for historic Supreme Court nominee
DEMOCRATIC KEY IN FAVOR:Manchin will vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, likely ensuring she’s the first black woman on the Supreme Court
During the hearings, Republicans on the committee pressed Jackson on his record of convicting defendants in child pornography cases and as a federal public defender representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In sometimes acrimonious interrogations, the members also pushed Jackson to explain his views on controversial political issues such as court packing, critical race theory and transgender rights.
Since the hearing, a number of Republicans on the committee have announced their intention to vote “no” to Jackson’s nomination, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of only three Republicans to vote. to confirm Jackson to his current position on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Their opposition means the committee should reach a tie vote, rather than a “for” or “against” recommendation.
What will happen in Monday’s committee vote
On Monday, the senators will each have unlimited time to share their views on Jackson and explain their position on the nomination. Democrats are expected to reiterate their support for the nominee as an impartial jurist whose background brings much-needed perspective to the High Court, while Republicans are likely to resurrect arguments against her, including that they believe she is lenient towards The crime.
After debate, senators on the committee will vote on the nomination. In the event of a tie, the committee will send Jackson’s name to the full Senate without a recommendation.
A tie vote will not delay confirmation
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., to set timeline for full Senate vote, probably during the week. A vote could take place as early as Tuesday, but will likely take place later in the week but before Friday, when lawmakers leave for the Easter recess.
The Senate is evenly split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. If a simple majority of 51 votes for her, Jackson is confirmed. If the Senate ties at 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris (acting as Senate President) would break the tie and give Jackson the deciding vote.
With Democrats and Collins backing the nomination, Jackson appears to have enough votes to be confirmed without Harris’ help.
Durbin warned reporters Wednesday that the fight to confirm Jackson was not over until the vote was taken.
“It is not finished”, he said. “Watched basketball games recently? How many of them went down to the last basket. That’s what we’re up against.”
“Things beyond our control can change this outcome,” he noted. If a Democratic senator tests positive for Covid, for example, and is unable to vote, confirmation could be pushed back.
“We live in this world, a 50-50 world where every vote can make a difference as to whether it’s going to be confirmed or not,” Durbin said.
For now, however, Democrats say the confirmation vote is still on track to take place before the House adjourns on Friday, April 8.
Contributor: Deborah Berry