Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (UT) and Susan Collins (ME) appeared to revel in their wildcard status in the upper chamber of the legislature as both suggest the Senate Judiciary Committee did not provide enough clarity on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court and, in Romney’s opinion, was a “little hot” and disrespectful.
Jackson’s SCOTUS hearing ended Thursday and the committee is set to vote on her nomination Monday, April 4. Current speculation suggests the 22 member committee will be deadlocked 11-11 and force additional debate on the Senate floor.
The middling Republicans asserted that further review of Jackson’s record was necessary, which is arguably peculiar considering both had cast a vote on her appointment to the appellate court last year.
Collins conveyed to reporters that she plans “to have a telephone call with Judge Jackson this week to clarify some of the issues that were raised at the hearing. At this point, over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go through all of the excerpts from the hearing, which was very helpful, and I have a few questions.”
Joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), Collins was one of only three Republicans to confirm Jackson. Having only opposed the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, on the grounds that now-Attorney General Merrick Garland was not given a hearing with greater time leading up to the election, Collins’s attempt at clarity leaves open the possibility of a “no” vote.
However, Romney’s plan for a “deeper dive” seems rather contradictory. Last year, the Utah lawmaker voted against the appointment of Jackson to the appellate court. If he did believe her qualified for a lower-level court, how can he justify a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the nation?
Speaking with Kasie Hunt on CNN+’s “The Source with Kasie Hunt,” Romney said, “In this case…she’s gone into much more depth talking about her judicial philosophy that she had before. And we’re, of course, looking at her judicial record, as a district judge and as an appellate judge, in far more depth than we had before.”
Romney’s then postured on the decorum of the hearing noting, “Some colleagues on my side of the aisle, I thought, asked respectful questions and were able to elicit responses from her that I think were very helpful to those that are making an evaluation.”
“I think any setting like this that doesn’t show respect for the witness, or in this case the judge,” Romney alluded to unnamed members of the committee, “is not the right way for us to go.”
“We should show, in my opinion, more respect for one another. And so sometimes the rhetoric was a little hot. But I think in the final analysis,” he continued, “we’ll each be able to make our decision based upon our personal interview with Judge Jackson and with the results that come from these hearings.”
As it stands, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be required as chair of the Judiciary Committee to “transmit a notice of a tie vote to the Secretary of the Senate” should an 11-11 split occur. According to Congressional rules, this will require a “motion to discharge” that will initiate four hours of debate equally divided.
If another deadlock occurs, Vice President Kamala Harris will be needed in capacity as President of the Senate to break the tie. Politico reported that this process has already been used 14 times in this session of the Senate and the last SCOTUS pick to require such lengths occurred in 1853.
Out of 164 nominations, the Senate has approved 120 Justices to the Supreme Court since 1789 so there is ample precedent to vote against the appointment of Jackson if the senators see fit.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has already indicated he would be a no vote based on her questionable responses to the matters of Critical Race Theory, her sentencing record regarding child sex abuse cases and her inability to answer the basic question of “what is a woman?”
Especially in the case of Romney, one must wonder what information can be brought forward pertaining to those concerns that could turn his original “no” to a “yes.”
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