Sen. Susan Collins backs Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court

Maine Republican gives Jackson bipartisan backing, and calls confirmation process 'broken'

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's nominee for the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in her office on March 8.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's nominee for the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in her office on March 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 30, 2022 at 10:02am

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, giving President Joe Biden’s pick bipartisan backing to become the first Black woman justice.

Collins, in a statement released early Wednesday that also called the Supreme Court confirmation process “broken,” became the first and so far only Republican to announce support for Jackson. She is one of three GOP senators who voted last year to confirm Jackson as a federal appeals court judge in Washington.

Collins’ support is significant because it gives Democrats who control the evenly divided Senate a cushion in the event of an absence on their side of the aisle. And it sidesteps the possibility that Vice President Kamala Harris would need to break a tie vote to confirm Jackson to the high court.

A committee vote on Jackson’s nomination is set for Monday, and Democrats plan to have a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor later next week. Jackson is expected to get the backing of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus and at most a handful of Republicans.

Collins said Jackson has “sterling academic and professional credentials.” Collins said she made the decision after reviewing Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her confirmation hearing testimony last week and meeting with her twice.

“I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Collins said. “I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”

The other two Republican senators who voted for Jackson last year for the federal appeals court — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have not announced how they will vote on the Supreme Court confirmation.

Collins has shown independence when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. She voted against President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 because she disagreed with Republicans’ speedy push to fill the vacancy just days prior to the presidential election.

Collins used the announcement of her Jackson vote to decry the “disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process.” At hearings last week, some Republican senators ratcheted up confrontations with Jackson about her actions in child pornography cases, which Democrats called an inaccurate and discredited attack.

“No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, anyone who has watched several of the last Supreme Court confirmation hearings would reach the conclusion that the process is broken,” Collins said. “Part of the reason is that, in recent years, the process has increasingly moved away from what I believe to be appropriate for evaluating a Supreme Court nominee.”

Collins noted that she disagreed with Jackson on several issues, disagreed with some of her past decisions and won’t agree with every vote she might cast on the Supreme Court.

“That alone, however, is not disqualifying,” Collins said. “Indeed, that statement applies to all six Justices, nominated by both Republican and Democratic Presidents, whom I have voted to confirm.”

Collins said that, in her view, the Senate’s role is to examine the experience, qualifications and integrity of a president’s nominee.

“It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want,” Collins said.