After days of confirmation hearings, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will likely be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the third Black justice after Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) broke a 50-50 Senate tie between Democrats and Republicans on March 30, all but confirming Jackson’s position on the Court. According to the New York Times, she has since been joined by Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in supporting Jackson.. Even if the vote remained a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris would have been the deciding vote, pushing Jackson onto the highest bench in the land.
Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Jan. 27. When President Biden learned of his task to choose a nominee, he vowed to select a Black woman to serve on the Court. He decided to nominate Jackson, an experienced public defender looking to move up the ranks. According to the Texas Tribune, Biden received backlash from Republican Senator Ted Cruz for his promise, suggesting that the best candidate should be nominated, regardless of race or gender. However, Jackson quickly convinced people, including Senator Collins, that she was fit for the position.
According to the Associated Press, Collins said, “She possesses the experience, qualifications and integrity to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.”
Collins acknowledged that she may disagree with Jackson on fundamental issues but noted that a nominee’s confirmation depended on the ability of the judge instead of their viewpoints. Collins described the nomination process as “broken,” citing the increased politicization of the Supreme Court. Her vote, barring a miraculous turn of events, will confirm Jackson into the Supreme Court, facilitating a historical decision.
While Collins will vote in favor of Jackson, many Republicans have expressed skepticism about Jackson’s past. GOP Senators accused Jackson of having lenient record on child pornography as a public defender. Jackson responded by noting that child pornography cases were “among the worst that I have seen.” According to The New York Times, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Jackson an “activist judge,” claiming that Biden only nominated her due to her ideology, not for her knowledge of the field. Graham reasoned that because of this, Jackson was not fit for the court.
Others in the Senate don’t seem to believe that these claims are justified. According to Reuters, Democrats came to Jackson’s defense amid Republican attacks. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin implied that the GOP was merely showcasing an upcoming talking point for November elections: the idea that Democrats are soft on crime. Durbin commended Jackson for her poise and stability, deeming her a solid candidate for the Supreme Court.
Jackson’s presence on the Court would likely provide a balance for the long term between liberals and conservatives. With her, the Supreme Court would remain 6-3, with conservatives outnumbering liberals. Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett make up the conservative bloc while Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayer, and Jackson would form the liberal bloc. The future of the Supreme Court will likely remain politicized in the future, with Presidents stacking the Court with a judge that agrees with their ideological view.