By Stacy M. Brown
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said aloud on Monday what many may have thought about the Supreme Court nomination hearings where Republicans verbally lynched Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
“Judge Jackson is a better person than me,” Durbin said.
With the committee advancing Jackson’s nomination and three Republicans announcing their support for the judge, it’s all but assured that a Black woman will sit on the highest court in the land for the first time in U.S. history.
The expected final tally of 53-47 includes GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expects final confirmation by April 9.
“My support rests on Judge Jackson’s qualifications, which no one questions; her demonstrated judicial independence; her demeanor and temperament; and the important perspective she would bring to the court as a replacement for Justice [Stephen] Breyer,” Murkowski said.
“She will bring to the Supreme Court a range of experience from the courtroom that few can match given her background in litigation,” she said.
On Twitter, Romney announced that Jackson represents a “well-qualified jurist and a person of honor” who “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity.”
The most recent committee hearing appeared headed on a spiral toward earlier confirmation sessions until Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who three times had voted to confirm Jackson to other seats, spewed more venom.
“[Jackson] is embraced by the most radical people in the Democratic movement to the exclusion of everybody else,” Graham spouted.
He also referred to Jackson as an “activist” judge, noting that if the GOP controlled the Senate, she would have already been voted down.
“If we get back the Senate and we are in charge of this body and there [are] judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side but she would not have been before this committee if we were in charge,” Graham railed.
However, Durbin praised the nominee’s restraint in the face of unhinged GOP senators who many suggested posed questions that bordered on being racist and obscene.
“She stayed calm and collected, showed dignity, grace and poise. It is unfortunate that some moments in our hearing came to that. But if there’s one positive to take away from these attacks on her, it is that the nation saw the temperament of a good strong person ready to serve on the highest court in the land,” Durbin asserted.
As most observers speculated, the Senate Judiciary Committee split down the middle, voting 11-11 along party lines on Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination.
But even that came with some hiccups.
The vote was briefly held up because of a rerouted aircraft carrying Democratic California Sen. Alex Padilla.
Traveling from California on the same flight as a troubled passenger, Padilla didn’t show up until late Monday. Padilla’s vote counted as desperately needed to advance Jackson’s nomination with the committee voting along party lines.
Unlike other ballots cast in the Senate, only dissenting votes are allowed when attempting to advance a nominee out of committee.
D.C. Bound by Court’s Rules But Still Without a Vote
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said while the vote to advance and ultimately confirm Jackson “is historic,” there’s still some emptiness for the District of Columbia.
“D.C., as with every other SCOTUS nominee in history, will have no vote on confirmation even though D.C. and its residents are bound by the court’s rulings,” Norton said.
Still, Jackson’s confirmation remains on pace for a dramatic conclusion either on April 7 or 8.
“We applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking a critical step towards a U.S. Supreme Court that represents our communities and fulfills the promise of equal justice under law,” Wade Henderson, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, remarked.
“At her hearing, Judge Jackson showed the nation why she will be a justice for all – her years of experience as an even-handed jurist, her brilliance and passion for the law and her commitment to fairness and to upholding the constitutional rights of all,” Henderson said.
“In the face of dishonest attacks and shameful attempts to derail her nomination, Judge Jackson demonstrated her thoughtful judicial temperament and perseverance. She is ready to serve on our highest court and we call on the full Senate to confirm this distinguished and highly qualified nominee immediately,” he said.
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