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Collins, Romney and Murkowski Break With GOP on Jackson Nomination

April 4, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Collins, Romney and Murkowski Break With GOP on Jackson Nomination
Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination in a Monday vote, the panel’s first tie on a high court pick since Clarence Thomas’ nomination in 1991. 

Senators voted 11-11 on sending Jackson’s nomination to the full Senate, with the vote breaking down along party lines. Because of the split vote, Jackson’s nomination will not automatically advance.

Instead, the Senate had to formally discharge her nomination from the committee, something Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., made happen Monday night, after Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah, voted with Democrats to set the stage for vote on the nomination by the full Senate later this week.

Previously Collins had said she would vote to approve Jackson, meaning there is little doubt Jackson, 51, will win the majority she needs to join the Supreme Court.

“After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court,” Collins said in a statement. “I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”

Before the committee vote Monday, Democrats and Republicans repeated the praise or criticism they had expressed during the sometimes bruising confirmation hearings.

Democrats said Jackson’s record shows her careful consideration of cases and deep commitment to justice. Republicans described her as a liberal extremist who was soft on crime.

“She has that perspective of knowing that life is not always easy,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said about Jackson’s varied background that includes working as a private attorney, a public defender, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and a U.S. district and appellate judge.

The Senate confirmed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit less than a year ago after nine years as a trial court judge in Washington.

“She’s going to judge cases by fairness and she’s going to do the right thing,” Klobuchar said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that if Jackson is confirmed, she would try to strike down many of the causes that are important to conservatives, such as gun rights, restrictions on abortion and religious freedom.

“That’s why radical leftist groups have pledged to spend more than a million dollars to support her nomination,” Cruz said.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said Jackson’s record as a federal district court judge shows “she demonstrated a diligent and careful approach.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., one of the committee’s most conservative members, said, “Judge Jackson might be a fine woman but she has built her career as a far left activist.”

He added that her background as a federal public defense attorney is obvious in her rulings as a judge.

“Judge Jackson habitually sympathizes with criminals over victims,” Cotton said.

One of the cases Republicans mentioned as an example of Jackson’s sentencing practices came after the conviction of self-described drug kingpin Keith Young. The judge cut his 20-year sentence on drug and firearms charges in half under authority of a criminal justice reform law called the First Step Act.

Jackson defended her ruling during the confirmation hearings last month by saying she followed the guidelines of the law and considered the circumstances of the case.

Republicans also cited her ruling in a civil case in which immigration reform activists sought a ruling to block a Trump administration policy for fast-tracking deportations.

Jackson ruled the Homeland Security Department acted beyond its authority with the deportations. The U.S. court of appeals overturned her decision.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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