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Senate panel to vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are kicking off a whirlwind of votes and actions in the Senate on Monday in a bid to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman on the Supreme Court by the end of the week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicks off Monday morning with a vote on whether to move Jackson’s Senate nomination. Democrats will then pass the Senate nomination 50-50, with a final vote in sight for the choice of President Joe Biden to replace incumbent Justice Stephen Breyer.

After more than 30 hours of hearings and Republican interrogations on her case, Jackson is set to make history as the third black judge and only the sixth woman in the more than 200-year history. of the court. Democrats — and at least one Republican — are touting her deep experience during her nine years on the federal bench and her chance to become the first former public defender on the court.

Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson smiles as Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., arrives for a meeting at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 31, 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite via Associated Press

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said Thursday that the high regard for Jackson after four days of combative hearings is “proof of the strength she brings to this nomination and the value she will bring to the Supreme Court”.

The judiciary panel could find itself deadlocked in Monday’s vote, 11-11, meaning Democrats will have to spend overtime in the Senate to “clear” its nomination from the committee. While that won’t delay the process for long, it’s another blow to Democrats who had been hoping to confirm Jackson with bipartisan support.

A deadlocked vote would be “a truly unfortunate signal of the continuing dysfunction of our confirmation process,” said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Judiciary panel.

The committee hasn’t stalled on a nomination since 1991, when a motion to send Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination upstairs with a “favorable” recommendation failed on a 7-7 vote. The committee then voted to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation, meaning it could still be put to a vote.

Either way, Democrats are prepared to spend time on the discharge Monday afternoon, if necessary. The Senate would then move through a series of procedural steps before a final confirmation vote later in the week.

While none of the Republicans on the judiciary panel are expected to back Jackson, Democrats will have at least one favorable GOP vote on the floor — Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who announced last week that she would back the nominee. Collins said that while she doesn’t always agree with her, Jackson “has the experience, qualifications and integrity to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.”

It is unclear so far whether other Republicans will join her. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell set the tone for the party last week when he said he “can’t and won’t” support her, citing GOP concerns raised during the hearing about his conviction record and his support of liberal advocacy groups.

Collins and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only three to vote for Jackson when the Senate confirmed her as an appeals court judge last year. Graham said Thursday he would not support her this time around; Murkowski says she’s still deciding.

Collins’ endorsement likely saves Democrats having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick, and Biden called Collins on Wednesday to thank her after her announcement, according to the senator’s office. The president had called her at least three times ahead of the hearings, part of a larger campaign to win a bipartisan vote for his landmark nominee.

All 50 Democrats are expected to back Jackson, although a notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has yet to say how she will vote.

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