By CHRISTIAN WADE
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is backing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, becoming the first from her party to support the potentially historic confirmation.
On Wednesday, Sen. Collins announced that she will support President Joe Biden’s nominee, putting Judge Jackson one step closer to becoming the first black woman to serve on the high court. The Senate is divided 50-50, and not all Republicans or Democrats have declared how they will vote though most are expected to go along party lines.
“Judge Jackson has sterling academic and professional credentials,” Sen. Collins said in a statement. “Her stellar qualifications were confirmed by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which awarded her its highest rating of ‘unanimously well qualified.'”
Sen. Collins pointed to Jackson’s legal acumen, citing her tenure as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and, prior to that, as a federal District Court judge.
After meeting with Judge Jackson twice, Sen. Collins said she concluded “she possesses the experience, qualifications and integrity” to serve on the Supreme Court.
Sen. Collins said she doesn’t agree with some of Judge Jackson’s prior decisions and expects that she “won’t agree with every vote she casts” as an associate Supreme Court justice.
“That alone, however, is not disqualifying,” she said. “Indeed, that statement applies to all six justices, nominated by both Republican and Democratic presidents, whom I have voted to confirm.”
Sen. Collins’ vote could all but seal Jackson’s confirmation, assuming that all of the 50 Senate Democrats vote for her as well. Published reports say one notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, hasn’t yet said how she will vote. Vice President Kamala Harris could also cast a tie-breaking vote, but it doesn’t appear that that will be necessary. The Senate requires a simple majority to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.
It’s not clear whether other Republican lawmakers will join Sen. Collins in supporting her nomination. Several GOP senators, including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., grilled Judge Jackson during confirmation hearings last week before the Judiciary Committee.
A Judiciary panel is expected to vote Monday on recommending her confirmation to the full Senate, and that appears destined for an 11-11 deadlock. Democrats, if that happens, would have to spend more time on the Senate floor next week to “discharge” from committee.
Even still, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, her confirmation is expected by the end of next week before a two-week spring recess.
In a dig at fellow lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, Sen. Collins bemoaned how the confirmation process has moved away from what is “appropriate” under the law.
“No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, anyone who has watched several of the last Supreme Court confirmation hearings would’ve reached the conclusion that the process is broken,” she said.
Sen. Collins said the Constitution outlines that the role of the Senate in confirmation hearings is to examine the experience, qualifications and integrity of the 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,” she said in the statement.