Supreme Court pick Jackson's confirmation likely after she clears key Senate hurdle, gains more GOP support from Romney, Murkowski

Key Points
  • Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson cleared key Senate hurdles and gained the support of two more Republican senators.
  • Jackson, President Joe Biden's first Supreme Court pick, is expected this week to be confirmed as the first Black woman to serve on the top U.S. court.
  • Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both revealed that they would support Jackson to become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court
Ketanji Brown Jackson nomination moves forward
Ketanji Brown Jackson nomination moves forward

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised to cruise to Supreme Court confirmation after she cleared a key Senate hurdle and gained the support of two more Republican senators on Monday.

Senators voted 53-47 Monday afternoon to move Jackson's nomination out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the full Senate floor, clearing the path for a final confirmation vote this week.

As those votes rolled in, Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both revealed that they would support President Joe Biden's nominee. Their support means three Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, are set to join with all 50 Democrats to back Jackson's nomination.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) (not pictured), in his office at the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC, March 29, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

If confirmed, Jackson will become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Murkowski said that her support "rests on Judge Jackson's qualifications, which no one questions; her demonstrated judicial independence; her demeanor and temperament; and the important perspective she would bring to the court as a replacement" for retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

Romney announced his support for Jackson minutes after Murkowski did.

"After reviewing Judge Jackson's record and testimony, I have concluded that she is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor," he said in a statement. "While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the Court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity."

Earlier Monday, the 22-member Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on a procedural vote, with all Democratic members voting to report Jackson favorably to the full Senate and all Republicans voting against her.

The tie vote was expected, and prompted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to quickly move to break the stalemate in the full chamber.

In remarks before the vote, members of the Judiciary committee laid out their support or opposition for Jackson's nomination. Some also re-hashed arguments that dominated the two marathon days of questioning that Jackson endured during her confirmation hearings last month.

Republican members accused Jackson of holding held far-left views and criticized her for failing to satisfy their questions about her judicial philosophy.

They also once again focused on Jackson's sentencing history in handful of child pornography cases, claiming her record shows a pattern of being far too lenient to those offenders. Fact-checkers have disputed those characterizations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would vote against Jackson, despite supporting her less than a year earlier when Biden nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. On Monday, Graham explained his prior support for Jackson by saying that on the Supreme Court, "you're making policy, not just bound by it."

He also warned the Democratic majority that if Republicans re-take the Senate after the 2022 midterm elections, they will block Democrats' new judicial nominees.

"If we get back the Senate and we're in charge of this body and there's judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side, but if we're in charge she would not have been before this committee. You would've had somebody more moderate than this," Graham said. "[When] we're in charge, then we'll talk about judges differently."