Ketanji Brown Jackson is set to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court this week despite committee deadlock


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked Monday 11-11 over whether to send Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination to the Senate. But President Joe Biden’s nominee is still on track to be confirmed this week as the first black woman on the high court.

The committee’s tied vote was expected, as there is an even party split on the panel and all Republicans oppose Jackson’s nomination to replace incumbent Justice Stephen Breyer. But it was still a blow to Democrats who had hoped for strong bipartisan support — and it was the first time the committee had been deadlocked over a Supreme Court nomination in three decades.

In a bid to move forward, Democrats have scheduled a new vote to “release” Jackson’s nomination from the committee on Monday night, then take a series of procedural steps in the coming days to push it through the Senate 50-50 . With the backing of at least one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Jackson is on track for confirmation by the end of the week.

“Justice Jackson will bring to the Supreme Court extraordinary qualifications, profound experience and intelligence, and a rigorous judicial record,” Biden tweeted Monday. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next judge.”

After more than 30 hours of hearings and Republican interrogations on her case, Jackson is set to make history as the third black judge and only the sixth woman in the more than 200-year history. of the court. Democrats cite her deep experience during her nine years on the federal bench and her chance to become the first former public defender on the court.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin said at Monday’s meeting that Jackson had “the highest standard of skill, integrity, civility and grace.”

“The action of this committee today does nothing less than make history,” said Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. “I am honored to be a part of it. I will strongly and proudly support Justice Jackson’s nomination.”

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

The committee hasn’t been deadlocked since 1991, when Biden was chairman and a motion to send the nomination of current Justice Clarence Thomas to the prosecution with a ‘favorable’ recommendation failed on a 7-to vote. 7. The committee then voted to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation, meaning it could still be up for a vote.

“Descent into Dysfunction”

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the committee, said last week that a tie vote on Jackson would be “a truly unfortunate signal of the continued descent into dysfunction in our confirmation process.”

So far, Democrats know they will have at least one Republican vote in the full Senate — Collins, who last week announced she would back the nominee. Collins said that while they don’t always agree, Jackson “has the experience, qualifications and integrity to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.”

It is unclear whether other Republicans will join her. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky set the tone for the party last week when he said he ‘cannot and will not’ support Jackson, citing Republican concerns raised during the hearing regarding his conviction record and his support of liberal advocacy groups.

Republicans on the judiciary panel on Monday continued their efforts to portray Jackson as soft on crime, defending their repeated questions about his sex crimes conviction.

“Questions are not attacks,” said Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of several Republican senators on the panel who hammered home the point during hearings two weeks ago.

Jackson pushed back against this account, stating that “nothing could be further from the truth”. Democrats said she agreed with other justices in her rulings and on Monday criticized the questioning of their counterparts.

“You could try to create a straw man here, but it doesn’t hold up,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said.

The questioning was filled with “disrespectful nonsense,” said Booker, who is also black, and he said he would “rejoice” when she was confirmed.

WATCH | Jackson answers questions during a roller coaster hearing:

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson grilled by senators

Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by US President Joe Biden to the Supreme Court, faced her first day of questioning from senators. Jackson, who if confirmed would become the first black woman to join the court, answered questions about her court record and conviction. 2:05

Collins and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only three to vote for Jackson when the Senate confirmed her as an appeals court judge last year. Graham said Thursday he would not support her this time around; Murkowski said she was still deciding.

Collins’ endorsement likely saves Democrats having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote to confirm Biden’s pick, and the president called Collins on Wednesday to thank her. Biden had called her at least three times ahead of the hearings, part of a major push to win a bipartisan vote for his landmark nominee.

All 50 Democrats are expected to back Jackson, although a notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has yet to say how she will vote.