Senate Votes To Advance Jackson Nomination, Overcoming Stalemate

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Senate Votes To Advance Jackson Nomination, Overcoming Stalemate
The Senate voted 53-47 to "discharge" Jackson's nomination from the Judiciary Committee after the panel deadlocked 11-11.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney say they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic elevation to the Supreme Court, giving President Joe Biden's nominee a burst of bipartisan support and all but assuring she'll become the first Black female justice.

The senators from Alaska and Utah announced their decisions Monday night ahead of a procedural vote to advance the nomination and as Democrats pressed to confirm Jackson by the end of the week. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced last week that she would back Jackson, noting her "stellar qualifications” as a federal judge, public defender and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

All three Republicans said they did not expect to agree with all of Jackson's decisions, but they found her extremely well qualified. Romney said Jackson “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity." 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.”

With three Republicans supporting her in the 50-50 split Senate, Jackson is on a glide path to confirmation and on the brink of making history as the third Black justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Beyond the historic element, Democrats have cited her deep experience in nine years on the federal bench and the chance for her to become the first former public defender on the court.

Both Collins and Murkowski said they believed that the Senate nomination process has become broken as it has become more partisan in the past several decades.

Murkowski, who is up for reelection this year, said her decision partly rests “on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees, which, on both sides of the aisle, is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.”

After the vote, Murkowski said she had “assumed a level of risk” but "there’s three of us that found ourselves in this place where I believe the strength, qualifications of the candidate are such that are appropriate for the court.”

President Biden nominated Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who will step down after the court's session ends this summer. Biden has sought bipartisan backing for his pick, making repeated calls to senators and inviting Republicans to the White House. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that administration officials would work the phones until the last minute to maximize support.

The Senate's 53-47 vote Monday evening was to “discharge” Jackson's nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel deadlocked, 11-11, on whether to send the nomination to the Senate floor.

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

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.