Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court Senate Vote: Live Updates

Credit…TJ Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The Senate voted Thursday to move forward with a confirmation vote for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, bringing her one step closer to becoming the first black woman to be elevated to the top of the judiciary.

The vote was 53-47 to limit debate on Judge Jackson’s nomination, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in the equally divided Senate to push forward her essentially assured confirmation. The judge’s supporters hailed her upcoming elevation as a long overdue step to bring new diversity and life experience to the court.

The final vote was expected later Thursday to confirm Justice Jackson, who would then be in line to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer when he retires at the end of the court session this summer.

Three Republicans – Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah – crossed party lines in the test vote. They were expected to do the same to confirm Judge Jackson later in the day, lending a modicum of bipartisanship to an otherwise bitterly partisan process.

The final debate came after a contentious confirmation battle in which conservative Republicans worked to derail his nomination and smear his record with misleading claims, portraying Judge Jackson as a liberal hardliner who coddled criminals, especially accused of child sexual abuse. Dismissing such portrayals as distorted and offensive, his supporters pointed to his deep qualifications and experience in the field of law, and called his impending confirmation a triumph – one where a representative of a group often pushed into the background rather came to the fore.

“It really is, in my opinion, a moment to celebrate,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, asking for the judge’s confirmation and lamenting that it was not unanimous. “She is an inspiration to millions and millions of Americans.”

Justice Jackson’s upcoming confirmation will be a major achievement for Mr. Biden, who promised at a low point in his 2020 primary campaign that he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court at his first opportunity. As a former public defender, Judge Jackson is the prime example of the administration’s focus on expanding not only the courts’ personal diversity, but professionally as well. She will be the first-ever public defender to become a High Court judge.

Faced with a historic choice that would not change the court’s ideological divide, top Senate Republicans initially promised a respectful review of his case to show they could vet a judicial nominee without personal attacks. Few questioned her qualifications, and Judge Jackson had been vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee three times previously, the last being less than a year ago for a seat on the prestigious United States Court of Appeals. United for the District of Columbia circuit.

But as his hearing neared and Republicans met Judge Jackson personally for courtesy talks, their tone sharpened and they began to harshly criticize his record as head of the US Sentencing Commission and district judge. federal in Washington for nearly nine years.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and Minority Leader, strongly challenged his refusal to take a stand on proposals to add seats to the High Court – a priority of progressive groups who were enthusiastic supporters of Judge Jackson.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican with presidential ambitions, said a review of his conviction record in child sex abuse cases showed a tendency to hand down lighter sentences than those recommended by prosecutors. Republicans have also criticized him for representing terrorist detainees at Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay military prison as an appointed public defender and for signing court documents accusing President George W. Bush of committing crimes. war crimes when detainees were tortured.

Republicans who engaged in combative questioning of the judge during her two days before the Judiciary Committee last month have stepped up their attacks this week as the confirmation vote nears.

“Judge Jackson may be a fine woman, but she’s a dangerous judge,” Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and another potential presidential contender, said in a floor speech, calling her a far-left activist.

In a particularly inflammatory attack, Mr. Cotton, referring to Justice Jackson’s work for terrorist inmates, noted that the legendary Justice Robert H. Jackson took leave of the Supreme Court in 1945 to serve as chief prosecutor of criminals of Nazi war.

“You know, the last Justice Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and pursue the case against the Nazis,” Cotton said. “That Judge Jackson could have gone there to defend them.”

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