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Murkowski, Romney support Jackson, almost assure confirmation

WASHINGTON – Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney say they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, give President Joe Biden’s nominee a burst of bipartisan support and all but assure that she will become the first black female judiciary.

Alaska and Utah senators announced their decisions Monday night ahead of a procedural vote to move forward with the nomination and as Democrats pushed to confirm Jackson by the end of the week. GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced last week that she would support Jackson, citing her “outstanding qualifications” as a federal judge, public defender and member of the US sentencing commission.

All three Republicans said they didn’t expect to agree with all of Jackson’s decisions, but felt they were extremely qualified. Romney said Jackson “lived above and beyond the standard of excellence and integrity.” Murkowski said she will “bring to the Supreme Court a range of courtroom experience that few, given her background in litigation, can match.”

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With three Republicans supporting her in the 50-50 Senate, Jackson is on a glide path to confirmation and is poised to make history as the third black judge and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Beyond the historical element, Democrats have cited her extensive experience in nine years at the Bundesbank and the chance for her to become the first former public defender in court.

Both Collins and Murkowski said they believe the Senate nomination process has broken down as it has become more partisan in recent decades.

Murkowski, who is up for re-election this year, said her decision was based in part “on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the scrutiny process for Supreme Court nominees, which is getting worse and more unreal on both sides of the aisle this year.”

After the vote, Murkowski said she “took a certain risk,” but “three of us have found ourselves in this place where I believe the strength and qualifications of the nominee for the court are appropriate.”

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Biden nominated Jackson to replace retired Judge Stephen Breyer, who will step down after the court session ends this summer. Biden has sought bipartisan support for his election, making repeated calls to senators and inviting Republicans to the White House. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that administration officials were working on the phone until the last minute to maximize support.

“Judge Jackson will bring exceptional qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous court record to the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted earlier Monday. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next judge.”

Monday night’s Senate vote, 53-47, aimed to “exonerate” Jackson’s nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel deadlocked 11-11 on whether to forward the nomination to the Senate.

The committee vote, which was split along party lines, was the first deadlock on a Supreme Court nomination in three decades.

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Chief Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, said he opposed Jackson’s nomination because “you and I have fundamental, different views about the role of judges and the role they should play in our system of government.”

The committee had not deadlocked since 1991, when Biden was chairman and a motion to put current Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination on the floor with a “favorable” recommendation failed by a vote of 7 to 7. The committee then voted to submit the nomination to the memorandum without recommendation, meaning it could still be put to a vote.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky set the tone for most of his party last week when he said he could not and will not support Jackson, citing concerns from the GOP raised in hearings about their conviction record and support expressed by liberal interest groups.

Republicans on the Judiciary Panel Monday continued their pressure to portray Jackson as soft on crime and defended their repeated questions about her sex crimes conviction.

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“Questions are not attacks,” said Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, one of several GOP senators on the panel who hammered the point in the hearings two weeks ago.

Jackson pushed back on the GOP narrative, stating that “nothing could be further from the truth,” explaining her reasoning in detail. Democrats said she agreed with other judges in her decisions. And on Monday they criticized the questioning of their GOP colleagues.

“One could try to create a straw man here, but that doesn’t hold up,” said Cory Booker, New Jersey Senator.

The questioning was filled with “absurdities of disrespect,” said Booker, who is also black. He said he will be “excited” if Jackson is confirmed.

NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Derrick Johnson expressed disappointment at the committee tie, although he noted that Jackson had cleared an important hurdle. He said “history will watch” during the full Senate vote later this week.

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Bohrer reported from Juneau, Alaska. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Farnoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro, and Josh Boak in Washington contributed.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.ksat.com/news/politics/2022/04/04/senate-panel-to-vote-on-jackson-nomination-to-supreme-court/ Murkowski, Romney support Jackson, almost assure confirmation

Andrew Schnitker

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