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Murkowski and Romney back Jackson, but secure Supreme Court confirmation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney announced Monday night that they would vote to uphold Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, giving President Joe Biden’s nominee bipartisan support and all but ensuring she would become the first black female judge.

Senators from Alaska and Utah announced their decisions ahead of a procedural vote to advance the nomination and as Democrats pressed to confirm Jackson by the end of the week. GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced last week that she would support Jackson.

The three Republicans said they didn’t expect to agree with all of Jackson’s decisions, but they found her well qualified. Romney said she “meets more than the standard of excellence and integrity.”

With three Republicans backing her in the 50-50 split Senate, Jackson is on the road to confirmation and set to make history as the third black justice and only the sixth woman in the history of more than 200 years of the court. Beyond the historical element, Democrats cited her deep experience in nine years on the federal bench and her chance to become the first former public defender on the court.

Both Collins and Murkowski said they believe the Senate nominating process has become broken as it has become more partisan in recent decades.

Murkowski said his decision is based in part “on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the Supreme Court nominee review process, which on both sides of the aisle is escalating and detaching from the reality of year after year”.

Biden nominated Jackson to replace outgoing judge Stephen Breyer. Biden sought bipartisan support for his pick, making repeated appeals to senators and inviting Republicans to the White House.

The Senate’s 53-47 vote Monday night was to “offload” Jackson’s nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel stalled, 11-11, on whether to send the nomination to the Senate.

The committee vote, split along party lines, was the first stalemate over a Supreme Court nomination in three decades.

“Justice Jackson will bring to the Supreme Court extraordinary qualifications, profound experience and intelligence, and a rigorous judicial record,” Biden tweeted earlier Monday. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next judge.”

The Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, said he opposed Jackson’s nomination because “she and I have fundamental and differing views on the role of judges and the role they should play in our system of government”.

The committee hasn’t been deadlocked since 1991, when Biden was chairman and a motion to send the nomination of current Justice Clarence Thomas to the prosecution with a ‘favorable’ recommendation failed on a 7-to vote. 7. The committee then voted to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation, meaning it could still be up for a vote.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky set the tone for most of his party last week when he said he ‘can’t and won’t’ support Jackson, citing GOP concerns raised during hearings regarding his conviction record and his support of liberal advocacy groups.

Republicans on the judiciary panel on Monday continued their efforts to portray Jackson as soft on crime, defending their repeated questions about his sex crimes conviction.

“Questions are not attacks,” said Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of several GOP senators on the panel who hammered home the point during hearings two weeks ago.

Jackson pushed back against the GOP narrative, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.” Democrats said she was in line with other justices in her rulings. And on Monday, they criticized the questioning of their GOP counterparts.

“You could try to create a straw man here, but it doesn’t hold up,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said.

The questioning was filled with “disrespectful nonsense,” said Booker, who is also black, and he said he would “rejoice” when she was confirmed.

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, expressed his disappointment with the tie, although he noted that Jackson had cleared a significant hurdle. He said “history will watch” in the full Senate vote later this week.


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