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Senate moves closer to final vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court

Senators announce their positions on Jackson ahead of a final confirmation vote expected Thursday

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer in the Capitol on March 29. He plans to set up a final vote this week on Jackson's confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer in the Capitol on March 29. He plans to set up a final vote this week on Jackson's confirmation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate set the stage for a final confirmation vote Thursday on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Jackson received the support of all Democrats along with three Republicans in a 53-47 vote on a procedural motion Tuesday morning. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said he planned to file another procedural motion on her nomination later Tuesday, which would set up a Thursday vote.

Schumer called Jackson, who served as public defender and trial judge before serving as a federal appeals court judge in Washington, “one of the most qualified and accomplished individuals ever considered by this chamber to the Supreme Court.”

“It will be our courts and the American people who rely on our courts who will benefit most from having an amazing jurist like Judge Jackson elevated to the pinnacle of the federal judiciary,” during a floor speech Tuesday.

President Joe Biden picked Jackson, 51, to fill a vacancy that will be created when Justice Stephen G. Breyer retires at the end of the term at the end of June. Her confirmation is not expected to tip the current ideological balance of the nine-member court, which favors conservatives 6-3.

Senators announce positions

While Democrats and three Republicans have rallied around her nomination, the vast bulk of the Republican caucus have opposed her as senators announce their positions ahead of the final confirmation vote on the floor.

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who decided not to run for reelection in the 2022 midterms, announced in a news release that he would vote against Jackson over concerns she “will use her position on the Supreme Court to legislate from the bench as many more activist judges have done in recent decades.”

Portman also said he opposed Jackson because during a meeting she declined to take a position on the number of justices on the Supreme Court, although he voted for Trump appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett who declined to state a position on that issue during her confirmation in 2020.

Though Congress sets the size of the Supreme Court through statute, Republicans have pointed to her silence on that issue as well as her ruling in an immigration case and allegedly lenient criminal sentencing to oppose her.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the chamber’s sole Black Republican member, acknowledged the historic nature of Jackson’s nomination but said he was disappointed with Biden’s choice.

“It is clear that Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy and positions on the defining issues of our time make her the wrong choice for the Supreme Court,” Scott said in a news release. “From leaving the door open on court packing to her multiple overturned opinions, I cannot support a nominee with her record of judicial activism.”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a former civil rights lawyer, announced his support in a news release, and took particular note that Jackson’s confirmation would mean four of the nine justices would be women.

“When I started law school, there had never been a woman justice,” Kaine said. “The fact that such a positive change has occurred during my professional career gives me hope about our progress toward the ideal of equality that is our nation’s moral North Star.”

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