Politics

Senate panel meets to consider Jackson as she inches closer to Supreme Court


WASHINGTON — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will inch closer to the Supreme Court on Monday when the Senate Judiciary Committee meets to review her nomination after a week of tense hearings.

The panel is not expected to vote until April 4. Then the full Senate will vote later that week, requiring a simple majority to grant Jackson, 51, a federal appeals judge, a lifetime appointment on the high court.

Jackson’s nomination got a major boost Friday when two Democrats from conservative states, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, came out in favor of her, putting her in a strong position to win confirmation.

“She’s going to get confirmed in two weeks,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “And so much of that has to do with her vast experience, more judicial experience than four of the justices that currently sit on that court, but also the pillar of strength, how she handled those attacks.

“She, literally, is the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. When she walks into that court with her head held high, every little boy and girl in America is going to know that anything and everything is possible,” she said.

A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that the public supported Jackson’s confirmation by 2-to-1, with 58 percent favoring her for the Supreme Court. That’s the second-highest level of support the poll has registered for a high court nominee in the last 35 years, behind the 59 percent for Chief Justice John Roberts.

Days of contentious — and at times ugly — questioning didn’t dent Jackson’s support among Democrats, who control 50 votes in the chamber and don’t need any Republican votes to put her on the Supreme Court. Still, they expect and hope for a bipartisan vote.

The two most closely watched Republicans are Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both voted to confirm Jackson to her current job on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. Neither has taken a position yet on the Supreme Court nomination.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his “biggest concern” is Jackson’s “judicial philosophy.”

Portman downplayed the Republican criticisms during the Judiciary Committee hearings last week, saying they were “not personal attacks on her.” Her record on sentencing is “fair game,” he said, particularly “at a time of rising crime.”

Anatomy of a conservative attack

Despite the long odds, conservative activists haven’t given up on scuttling Jackson’s nomination or at least tilting the politics in their favor. Mike Davis, a former chief nominations counsel for Senate Republicans, said his group, the Article III Project, plans to run digital ads in West Virginia, Arizona, Georgia and other states highlighting Jackson’s sentencing record in child pornography cases.

Davis said he spotted an opening when he was going through a transcript of her remarks about the issue a decade ago when she was on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He flagged it to Judiciary Committee Republicans, who started digging into her record as a trial judge.

Not long afterward, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., posted a Twitter thread that turned heads. The blowback was quick, with the White House and fact checkers noting that Jackson’s sentencing practices were within the mainstream and conservative former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy calling Hawley’s claims “meritless to the point of demagoguery.”

Still, Davis said, voters will judge the “lenient” punishments.

“For Democrats, this confirmation went from being a political win to at best a political wash, and it could be a political loss,” he said.

Davis argued that Jackson’s confirmation would have one upside for Republicans. She wouldn’t, in his view, be able to “pick off two conservative justices and eke out liberal victories” from time to time on the 6-3 court. By contrast, he said, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, a finalist for the nomination, whom he compared to Justice Elena Kagan, would have been more able to entice a couple of conservatives to join more moderate rulings.

Meanwhile, progressive groups like Demand Justice are pushing for Jackson’s confirmation, plastering posters that read “CONFIRM KBJ” on the streets around Capitol Hill.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that Jackson is “an extraordinarily magnificent judge” and praised her temperament, grit and endurance.

He criticized some of the Republican questioning, which was laced with politically charged attacks that he and others deemed unfair.

“What we saw, though, this week was, to me, outrageous and beyond the pale and very different than what I’ve witnessed in my short time in the Senate seeing three different confirmation hearings,” Booker said. “What my — some of my — colleagues did was just sad.”



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