WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will begin March 21, keeping the Senate on track for a possible final vote next month.
Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the committee, announced the hearing schedule Wednesday as Jackson held his first meetings with senators on Capitol Hill. Jackson met in the morning with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. She planned to see Durbin and the top Republican on the committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, in the afternoon.
As is tradition, the hearings will last four days, with opening statements on March 21 and testimony and questioning the following two days. The fourth day will include testimony from outside witnesses.
If confirmed, Jackson would be the first black woman to serve as a judge in the court’s more than 200-year history. Breyer said he won’t leave the bench until this summer when the court session is over, but Democrats are still moving quickly, taking no chances in case there is a change in a 50-50 Senate where the Vice President Kamala Harris provides the deciding vote.
After Schumer and Jackson sat down on Capitol Hill to talk, Schumer said the Senate would propose the nomination “fairly but expeditiously.”
He spoke to reporters about Jackson, saying she’s “an optimistic person” who tries to see all sides of an issue. He said they talked a bit about his legal philosophy but mostly about his life and his family.
“You can see when you meet her that she has real empathy,” Schumer said. “I think that’s very important in a judge because you have two sides that go against each other on any issue, so you can empathize and walk in the other person’s shoes.”
Biden spoke about Jackson and honored Breyer in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, calling the nominee “one of our country’s finest legal minds, who will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence.” “.
Jackson, 51, was confirmed last year as a Washington court of appeals judge after eight years in district court. She previously worked as one of Breyer’s attorneys and served on the US Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy.
Biden said she was a “consensus builder,” noting her work as a private lawyer and as a federal public defender, and came from a family of public school educators and police officers. .
In a 149-page questionnaire Jackson returned to the Senate committee this week, she revealed she was first contacted by the White House on Jan. 30, three days after Breyer announced his retirement. Jackson, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, had long been considered Biden’s top candidate for the job, which he promised would go to a black woman.
Jackson met Harris in a video call on Feb. 11 and then interviewed Biden at the White House on Feb. 14, she said in the questionnaire. Biden called and offered him the nomination on Feb. 24, a day before making his decision public.
The questionnaire provides the committee with a record of all the jobs she has held and the decisions she has made during her nine years as a federal judge, as well as any recusals and potential conflicts of interest. Senators and staff will be able to verify this information much more quickly than they would have for other candidates since they considered her last year for her current position.
Jackson’s list of her most important cases contains just one new appeals court entry, describing an opinion she wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that ruled in favor of the unions.
Schumer and Durbin are still hoping to win GOP votes for his confirmation, even though many Republicans have expressed skepticism that Jackson is too liberal. The senses. Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham were the only Republicans to vote to confirm Jackson to the appeals court last year.
Although Collins appeared willing to vote for Jackson again, Murkowski said in a statement last week that her previous vote did not mean she would be in favor this time.
Graham had lobbied for a different candidate from his home state, federal judge J. Michelle Childs, and expressed disappointment that she was not Biden’s choice.
Schumer said after meeting Jackson that she was someone who should appeal to all parties, noting her past as a public defender and support from some police groups, for example.
He said he hopes when Republicans meet her, “They’ll be as impressed as I am. She’s an amazing person.