Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson could be confirmed to the Supreme Court without a single Republican vote, thanks to the Democrats’ numbers in the Senate, but many lawmakers are hopeful that Biden’s choice to replace Justice Stephen Breyer will have bipartisan support.
According to The New York Times, President Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats believe that Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia, has a good chance at being confirmed with some GOP support while also maintaining his promise to voters.
On the campaign trail, Biden promised his supporters that if elected president (and given the opportunity), he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, announced to be his official, historic pick to the Supreme Court on Friday, has also received GOP support in the past.
“Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country,” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said during her acceptance speech Friday afternoon. “The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known… My mother and father, who have been married for 54 years, are at their home in Florida right now and I know that they could not be more proud.”
Joe Biden spoke with Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah this week before the announcement, hopeful that they will aid in making her confirmation a more pleasant, bipartisan experience.
Though controversy surrounded the last four previous Supreme Court picks such as Merrick Garland (who was not chosen due to Republican majority) and Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, Democrats believe that it is time to put political differences aside and welcome the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
According to The New York Times, if at least one Republican chooses to join the Democratic side in the Senate, it would avoid the potential uproar over Vice President Kamala Harris having to break the tie. Democrats are hoping to avoid possible claims from opponents that Judge Jackson was not justly appointed.
Such an appointment would not be a first – Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not receive a single Democrat vote – but support within this administration is hard to come by, even from more conservative Democrats such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
When Ketanji Brown Jackson was appointed to her current position at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia just this past June, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only two GOP members to vote to confirm.
Lindsey Graham cast doubt over his decision on Twitter Friday, citing that he expects “a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
He also wrote that he was disappointed that the “Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated,” despite the fact that previous GOP picks Gorsuch and Kavanaugh graduated from Harvard and Yale, respectively.
Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, whom Biden spoke with this week and asked for her support, also issued a statement that suggested she would “conduct a thorough vetting” and wanted to meet Judge Jackson personally in her office.
Biden’s nominee has some extra ties to the Republican party that may help her cause, however, as she is married to surgeon Patrick G. Jackson, twin brother of former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s brother-in-law, William Jackson.
Back in 2012, Paul Ryan said during her Appeals Court confirmation hearing that “Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, for her integrity is unequivocal.”
Though the confirmation process can last months, hearings will begin for the Senate Judiciary Committee in the upcoming days.