Manchin Expresses Support for Ketanji Brown Jackson, All but Securing Her Nomination to the Supreme Court

FAA REAUTHORIZATION LEGISLATION” by Senate Democrats is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are coming to a close, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) vouched his support for Jackson to be confirmed to the Supreme Court on Friday.  With the Senate split 50-50, Republicans would need to vote unanimously to reject Jackson’s confirmation while having at least one Democratic defection to reject her appointment.  With Manchin set to support Jackson’s nomination, that possibility seems improbable. 


Manchin previously interviewed Jackson and said that interview in tandem with Jackon’s qualifications and testimony this week has led him to support the prospective Supreme Court jurist:


“I met with Judge Jackson and evaluated her qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice.  After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Manchin.   


Judge Jackson faced a host of challenging questions from Republican lawmakers throughout the week.  Questions varied from inquiries about Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy to her sentencing of sex offenders – and everything in between.  By and large, Republican Senators have announced that they will vote ‘no’ when the time comes to confirm or reject Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court.


It remains unclear whether any Republicans will vote to confirm Jackson.  The three most likely candidates to defect from party lines and vote for Jackson’s confirmation would seem to be Susan Collins (R-ME) Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – all of whom voted to confirm Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit in 2021.


For Republicans to have any chance at rejecting Jackson’s appointment, all 50 Republican Senators would need to vote against confirming Jackson; then, at least one Democratic Senator would have to vote against Biden’s nominee.  At this point, the only Democrat who could conceivably vote across party lines to reject Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination would be Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – a possibility that seems improbable.


Regardless of Republicans’ meager chances of blocking Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court, they have made a number of attempts to call into question Jackson’s legal record.  Republicans have tested Jackson on her fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, her seemingly lenient sentencing on sex offenders, her willingness to protect freedom of religion, and other matters.


Conversely, Democrats have touted Judge Jackson’s extensive legal background, pointing to her past experience serving as a Supreme Court clerk, public defender, and judge.  Moreover, Democrats have touted the historic nature of Jackson’s potential appointment to the Supreme Court.  If confirmed, she would be the first African American woman in the high court’s history.


The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet next week to decide whether to hold a whole-Senate vote on Jackon’s confirmation.  Should the committee vote to proceed to a full-Senate hearing, all 100 Senators will vote on whether to confirm Jackson – a vote that will likely come in early April. 


Ketanji Brown Jackson would fill the seat of retired Justice Stephen Breyer, a Bill Clinton appointee who served nearly three decades on the high court.  Moreover, as mentioned previously, Jackson would be the first African American woman confirmed to the Supreme Court after President Biden announced that he would select candidates on the basis of their gender and skin color. 

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