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Supreme Court Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson: Live Updates


Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The growing partisanship surrounding Supreme Court confirmations raises tough questions about the treatment of future nominees and whether a president’s pick from one party could ever be approved in a Senate controlled by the other.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee for nearly a year in 2016, declined to say on Tuesday whether he would allow a Supreme Court pick to be considered by the President Biden in 2023 if he were the majority leader. And it’s not even an election year.

“I’m not making any predictions about what our strategy might be if we become the majority,” McConnell said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said Monday the panel would not have accepted Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination if Republicans had been in control because of his perceived liberal leanings.

“When we’re in charge, then we’ll talk about judges differently,” he warned Democrats.

A Republican-led judiciary committee could lock up a Biden nominee on its own. All 11 Republicans on the panel voted against Judge Jackson’s nomination on Monday, forcing Democrats to force him out of the committee with a floor vote, a move they would have been unlikely to succeed had they been in the minority.

In the past, Democratic leaders on the committee have been willing to send Supreme Court nominees chosen by Republican presidents to the floor without a recommendation, or with a negative recommendation, to at least allow them to receive a full vote in the Senate. But Judge Jackson’s experience shows that Republicans might not give the same treatment to a Democratic candidate.

The intense polarization is an inevitable result of the tit-for-tat the parties have engaged in over judicial nominees for decades, reaching the point where Supreme Court nominees could be assured of only being taken into consideration. considered and approved when the President’s party controls the Senate.

The inability to advance candidates could easily extend to lower courts as well. Mr. Obama had to drastically reduce his efforts to serve on federal district court and appellate judges once Republicans won the Senate in 2014, and Republicans would no doubt slow Mr. Biden if they took office. .

It’s a huge departure from decades of Senate tradition, when members of both parties routinely voted for Supreme Court nominations by the president of the other party.

As recently as 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor received nine Republican votes; in 2010, Judge Elana Kagan received support from five Republicans.

Then, in 2016, Judge Merrick B. Garland didn’t even receive a hearing as Obama’s Supreme Court nominee sent to a Republican-controlled Senate. The next three nominees – Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – have all been narrowly confirmed, with Justice Gorsuch receiving three Democratic votes, Justice Kavanaugh one and Justice Barrett none. Judge Jackson is expected to win three Republican votes.

Although it was difficult to gather so many people, it should be considered significant given the current climate.

In any event, a Republican-controlled Senate would force the Biden administration to send judicial nominees at all levels who would be much more palatable to the GOP, potentially abandoning or moderating its emphasis on nominating civil rights lawyers. and former public defenders such as Judge Jackson. . Most Republicans opposed almost all.

To stand a chance of filling another Supreme Court vacancy, Biden would need to identify a nominee who could attract significant Republican support, which could prove a tall order. Judge Garland was chosen in 2016 specifically because Republicans had previously said they could support him or a candidate like him.

But when it came time to do so, and Republicans held the Judiciary Committee gavel, Justice Garland — the last Supreme Court nominee chosen by a president whose party did not control the Senate — is not went nowhere.

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