Republicans Oppose Jackson en Masse, Deadlocking Judiciary Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously opposed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination Monday as they continued to attack the first black woman to run for the Supreme Court, forcing Democrats to take extra steps to keep your confirmation this week on track.

The Republican opposition tied the committee evenly split 11 to 11, effectively halting Justice Jackson’s nomination after they spent hours vehemently reiterating their opposition to her elevation, which is almost certain. Democrats moved immediately to offload the issue from the judicial panel with a vote of the full Senate. That would pave the way for a confirmation vote on Thursday.

The partisan split came after a contentious Judiciary Committee meeting in which Republicans repeated their main lines of attack against the judge who dominated a contentious set of confirmation hearings, calling her a progressive activist who was soft on crime, while Democrats praised her qualifications and behavior and said the president Biden’s nominee deserved to be confirmed.

“This is a historic moment for the committee and for the United States,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and panel chairman.

While they did not question the importance of Justice Jackson’s nomination or her legal qualifications, Republicans continued to criticize her on a variety of fronts, even as some prominent conservatives called her criticism baseless. They criticized her sentences in child sexual abuse cases, her refusal to establish a personal judicial philosophy, her past representation of terrorism detainees as a public defender, and her deep support among progressive advocacy groups.

“This pick for Justice Jackson was really embraced by the most radical people in the Democratic movement to the exclusion of everyone else,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and a former Justice Jackson supporter who has become a fierce opponent. .

The straight party-line vote meant Democrats would have to employ a special maneuver to bring Justice Jackson’s nomination to the floor in a full Senate vote expected on Monday. It was a sign of how bitterly divided the chamber has become over approving Supreme Court nominees, once viewed by members of both parties as a matter of allowing the president, their chosen candidate, to serve on the court.

Although Republicans have complained about Democrats’ earlier treatment of Republican-appointed Supreme Court nominees, Monday’s meeting was very different from the one Democrats had when they considered the nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991, when Biden led the panel. At the time, instead of uniting against him en masse, Democrats agreed to send his nomination to the floor without a recommendation, despite their deep misgivings amid sexual harassment allegations against the candidate. Republicans on Monday refused to take a similar step, citing their view that Justice Jackson was too liberal.

“We’re supposed to be trained seals here who applaud when you nominate a liberal,” Graham said. “That’s not going to work.”

He warned that the next time Republicans control the Senate, they will routinely deny Democratic judicial candidates they deem too liberal a hearing before the judicial panel.

The committee’s vote on Justice Jackson’s nomination was postponed for much of Monday afternoon after Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., had trouble flying back from his home state, denying his party its full complement of 11 members to take the next step.

The brief postponement of the vote was another reflection of how sharp the lines are in the evenly divided Senate, leaving no room for error for Democrats eager to win his approval.

Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, has so far said she would vote for the nomination in the room, but if Democrats remain solidly united behind Justice Jackson, they have the votes to install her as Justice Jackson’s successor. which is withdrawn Stephen G. Breyer.

Republicans continued to question his credibility, citing his resistance to calls to outline his philosophical approach, with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, saying the response showed a lack of candor.

“Someone of his impressive caliber surely has a judicial philosophy, but maybe he just doesn’t want to talk about it,” Cornyn said.

In response, Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, accused Republicans of creating a caricature of Judge Jackson that is “so far off the mark” from reality considering her deep credentials and experience. He said that he had heard from people who asked, “How could they create these hype? How could they disrespect a person like her, who has done everything right in her life and on her path?

Democrats defended Judge Jackson’s record, noting, according to several independent analysts, that her sentencing record has become mainstream in the federal judiciary and accusing Republicans and conservative groups of distorting her record. They pointed to strong support for her from law enforcement groups and said many Trump administration candidates had issued similar sentences, but they were uniformly approved by the same Republicans who lined up against Justice Jackson.

“Everyone should have been dragged through the mud and insulted,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, who called the committee’s vote disappointing but not surprising.

Democrats said the Republican assault was as much about the upcoming midterm elections as it was about Justice Jackson herself.

“The main goal here is to stir up political division and score political points,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware.

Although some Republican members of the panel once contemplated boycotting the committee’s vote to erect a procedural hurdle for Justice Jackson, they quickly abandoned that tactic. But no one would support taking the nomination out of committee to expedite its consideration on the floor.

Even as Republicans on the panel uniformly said they would oppose her, many offered her personal and professional praise.

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who said on Monday that Justice Jackson would be the most extreme liberal ever to sit on the court, called her charming and talented.

“I’ve known her for 30 years and I always liked her personally,” he said.

J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge revered by conservatives who supports Justice Jackson, said the Texas senator was grossly misrepresenting his record.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to withdraw my endorsement of Justice Jackson for the Supreme Court if there was anything at all in Senator Cruz’s statement, but there isn’t,” he said. wrote on Twitter. “In fact, quite the opposite is the case.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina and another vote against him, said: “This is not about the content of his character.”

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