Jurisprudence

Ketanji Brown Jackson Has the Votes

Jackson, trailed by former Sen. Doug Jones, walks smiling through a hallway
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced she would be voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, all but assuring that Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve as a justice in the nation’s history.

The New York Times reported that Collins emerged from an hourlong meeting with Jackson feeling confident that Jackson would not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference” and that Jackson had promised to “forever stay out of [the] issue” of court packing after refusing to answer questions on the subject during last week’s confirmation hearings.

Advertisement

Jackson is set for a vote in the evenly divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday; USA Today reported that Democrats are pushing to hold a floor vote on her confirmation in the next two and a half weeks to be completed ahead of Easter.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Collins is the first Republican to voice support for Jackson’s confirmation in an evenly divided Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said last week that he would support Jackson’s nomination, which put her on the precipice of having the votes for confirmation. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has yet to announce her position, but seems likely to support Jackson. With Collins on board, Democrats likely will not need Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tiebreaking vote for Jackson’s confirmation, which would have been an unpalatable first.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Jackson has emerged even stronger after an impressive performance in her confirmation hearings last week. She had to withstand divisive attacks from Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, and others who falsely attempted to depict her as outside of the mainstream when it came to her sentencing practices in child porn cases as a district court judge.

The attacks, straight out of the QAnon playbook, seem to have possibly backfired.

On Wednesday, Marquette Law School released a poll showing that support of Jackson had increased during the course of the hearings, with 66 percent of Americans now saying they back her confirmation and only 34 percent opposed.

Compare that with polling for the last two Supreme Court justices selected by President Donald Trump: Only 45 percent supported Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, according to a Gallup poll after his hearings, with 46 percent opposed; while 51 percent supported Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, with 46 percent opposed.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Prior to the hearings, 58 percent of respondents told Gallup that they supported Jackson’s confirmation, with 30 percent opposed. Her support in that Gallup poll was the highest since Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation in 2005 and the second-highest in the poll’s 35-year history.

In the Marquette Law School survey, Jackson gained ground as the hearings went on:

Advertisement
Advertisement

Those interviewed after the Senate confirmations hearings began were somewhat more likely to say they supported her confirmation: Jackson was supported by 64% of those interviewed before the hearings and by 72% after hearings had begun. Prior to the hearings, 44% said Jackson was very qualified, while after hearings began 52% said she was very qualified.

Jackson also finished the hearings with a 62 percent favorable rating, higher than any current justice.

Advertisement
Advertisement

On Tuesday, Manchin made further news by speaking forcefully against the child porn smear of Hawley, Cruz, and Graham.

“It was disgraceful, it really was, what I saw,” he told reporters. “And I met with her and I read all the transcripts. I listened to basically the hearings and it just was embarrassing.

“It’s not who we are. It’s not what we were sent here to do, to attack other people and just try to tear them down,” he concluded. “I won’t be part of that. I think she’s extremely well qualified and I think she’ll be an exemplary judge.”

Advertisement