Better Get Used To Saying Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
Hooray for Susan Collins! She’s the first Republican to announce that she’ll support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court. This at the very least means that Vice President Kamala Harris won’t have to cast a tie-breaking vote and unlike Amy Coney Barrett’s drive-through confirmation, Jackson’s appointment will technically be bipartisan.
We can also rest easy about Senator Chaos Agent from Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema. She’s fairly certain to vote in line with Collins and Joe Manchin, who gave Jackson the thumb’s up last week. I’ve waited long enough and can finally exhale: We’re getting a sister on the Supreme Court! Just don’t make her sit near Clarence Thomas.
After a second personal meeting with the judge on Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Collins said Judge Jackson had alleviated some concerns that surfaced after last week’s contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, when Republicans attacked the nominee for her record and grilled her on a host of divisive issues.
“I have decided to support the confirmation of Judge Jackson to be a member of the Supreme Court,” Ms. Collins said in an interview after the meeting.
Collins is famously "very concerned" about things, but Jackson probably had to work harder to assuage those concerns than Brett Kavanaugh when he told Collins he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law.” Despite his firm pinky swear, he has consistently voted against abortion rights. Jackson assured Collins that she wouldn’t bend the law "to meet a personal preference,” unlike the other conservative justices who Collins supported.
I do credit Collins for these remarks:
In recent years, senators on both sides of the aisle have gotten away from what I perceive to be the appropriate process for evaluating judicial nominees. In my view, the role under the Constitution assigned to the Senate is to look at the credentials, experience and qualifications of the nominee. It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the individual ideology of a senator or would vote exactly as an individual senator would want.
You could interpret that as a dig at Ben Sasse, who praised Jackson up and down but said he couldn’t vote her because he disagreed with her judicial philosophy. He had no trouble voting to confirm Barrett, whom the American Bar Association rated unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
This also puts some pressure on Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski. Politically, Murkowski is more likely to vote in tandem with fellow “centrists” Manchin and Collins. Romney is only a moderate in the “opposes violent rightwing coups” sense. However, he can’t dispute that Jackson is qualified or intimate that she’s demonstrably more “liberal” than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed 96 to 3. Even Republicans from Mississippi, Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Utah voted to confirm the Jewish former ACLU lawyer.
Romney met again with Jackson Tuesday but remains circumspect on his final vote.
"Judge Jackson and I had a wide-ranging discussion about her experience and qualifications. Her dedication to public service and her family are obvious, and I enjoyed our meeting," the Utah Republican said in a statement after the two met on Capitol Hill.
"I appreciate the time she spent answering my questions, which was helpful as I continue my review of her record and testimony[.]”
However, if that whole sadistic spectacle Republicans put on at Jackson’s hearing had any purpose other than performative cruelty, it failed. Neither Manchin nor Collins was convinced that Jackson’s a critical race theory promoter and soft-on-crime pedophile whisperer. Manchin even denounced the GOP line of questioning as “disgraceful” and “embarrassing.”
Republicans served up red meat for racists on rightwing media, but when it came to actually keeping Jackson off the Supreme Court, as Willy Wonka said: “You lose! Good day, sir.”
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."