Senate votes to move forward with Jackson Supreme Court nomination after Judiciary Committee deadlock

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The Senate voted 53-47 Monday to advance Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination out of committee, inching her yet closer to final confirmation. 

Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted for the Monday “discharge motion,” to bring Jackson’s nomination from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. They also said in separate press releases that they will vote for her final confirmation. 

The Senate is still multiple steps away from a final confirmation vote, which is expected to happen most likely on either Thursday or Friday.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, during her confirmation hearing. 
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Support from Romney, R-Utah, and Murkowski, R-Alaska, is major win for the White House after no Republicans voted for Jackson in the Senate Judiciary Committee. They joined Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in voting in the affirmative Monday. She announced last week that she would back Jackson. 

Monday’s vote also put all Democrats who hadn’t officially announced their intention to vote for Jackson on the record on a vote related to the nomination, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. All remained voted to bring the nomination out of committee.

The vote on the discharge motion was needed because the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 11-11 on Jackson’s nomination earlier Monday. In the 50-50 Senate, committees are evenly divided – and Republicans and Democrats split along party lines in the committee.

“This is the fourth time the Committee has voted on Judge Jackson in some capacity, a reflection of her extraordinary legal career,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Monday ahead of the vote. “It’s the first time that the Committee has had the opportunity to advance the nomination of a Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is an historic moment for this Committee, and for America.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asks questions during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., September 30, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)

Republicans, meanwhile, blasted Jackson as a judicial activist. 

“She wants an outcome, she’s gonna find it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.

“I think it’s a sad day for the Republican Party,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Fox News Digital of the united GOP opposition to Jackson in committee. “Everybody said she’s superbly well qualified. Nobody really knew why they were voting against her except for the concocted outrage and meritless demagoguery, as one conservative columnist termed all the objections.”

But regarding Murkowski and Romney, Blumenthal said, “I’m extremely gratified that more Republicans are showing that they’re willing to consider this nomination on the merits and I think I would say also that by and large Republicans conducted themselves with great dignity and respect. There were some clearly disrespectful moments but maybe we’re making progress toward bipartisanship which would be a very good thing.”

Democrats Monday said it’s a shame that Jackson got so little support, particularly in the Judiciary Committee.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 8: Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in Collins’ office on Capitol Hill March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I think it’s a sad day for the Republican Party,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Fox News Digital. “Everybody said she’s superbly well qualified. Nobody really knew why they were voting against her except for the concocted outrage and meritless demagoguery, as one conservative columnists termed all the objections.”

The successful discharge vote is one of just a few steps remaining for Jackson to finally be confirmed – which barring something unforeseen appears likely. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to file cloture on the nomination Tuesday, setting up a procedural vote to end debate on the Jackson nomination as early as Thursday or Friday. That vote could be followed almost immediately by a final confirmation vote. 

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a news conference on on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(Associated Press)

One factor that could potentially intervene to delay the confirmation vote is if one or more Democrat senators get COVID-19 before the end of the week. In the 50-50 Senate, which does not allow remote voting, the margin for error can be extraordinarily slim. 

That was highlighted Monday during the Senate Judiciary Committee vote which needed to wait for hours for Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., to arrive because he had airline troubles. If the committee didn’t wait Republicans would have been able to win that vote. 

Jackson will replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who said he will step down at the end of the Supreme Court’s current term 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this work.

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