The top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee foreshadowed on Monday each side’s arguments about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which is now officially set for a panel vote on April 4.
Chairman Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, as expected because of committee rules, announced the delay of one week for a committee vote. That next meeting, set to start at 10 a.m., gives the 22 members of the panel the opportunity to make statements explaining their vote on Jackson’s nomination.
Durbin took a few minutes at the brief meeting Monday to offer counterarguments to some of the reasons Republicans have given to oppose Jackson, such as those who suggested she did not describe her judicial philosophy enough.
“Judge Jackson’s philosophy may not be described by catchword, but it reflects the real proper role of the judge in America,” Durbin said. “Listen to parties, approach each case without favoritism, set aside your personal view, and apply the law to the facts.”
Durbin also suggested that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans who criticized Jackson because she did not weigh in on whether more justices should be added to the court should note that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee they voted for, took the same approach during her confirmation hearing.
And Durbin called the suggestion that Jackson is soft on crime “baseless,” and the charge that she let child pornography offenders off the hook as “vile” and an “outright falsehood.”
“Some members of this committee used the entirety of their question time, all 50 minutes, to focus exclusively on child pornography cases,” Durbin said. “Now, this may play well to the QAnon crowd and the fringe conspiracy theories who helped drive the insurrection on January 6, 2021, but the American public sees it for what it is.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, said he would have specific things to say about Jackson’s nomination next week. But he used the brief meeting Monday to point out concerns about the process, such as Jackson’s record being “incomplete” because the panel does not have all non-public documents.
And Grassley blamed Democrats for two decades ago being the first to publicly make judicial philosophy a reason for opposing judicial nominees, when they filibustered Janice Rogers Brown and stopped her from becoming the first Black woman on the federal appeals court in Washington and potentially a Supreme Court nominee.
Jackson is expected to get the backing of the 11 Democrats on the committee. If all Republicans vote against the nomination, and there is a tie vote, Democrats will have to take an additional procedural step before the nomination can move to the floor for a final confirmation vote.
Either way, Democrats expect to have that final confirmation vote later next week. In the full Senate, the Democratic caucus can stick together and confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court without the help of any Republicans.
No Democrats have signaled opposition to Jackson’s nomination, and no Republicans have said they would support Jackson’s nomination.