I’m almost positive she has 50 votes. If you thought the failure of Build Back Better was a divisive debacle for Democrats, imagine the first black woman nominee in the history of the Supreme Court going down in flames because she couldn’t gain a majority in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
The party might never fully recover.
But let’s count heads here. Ketanji Brown Jackson got three Republican votes when she was nominated to the D.C. Circuit last year. One was Lisa Murkowski, but Murkowski has a tough reelection coming up. She doesn’t want to cede too many right-wing votes to her Trump-back challenger. And Murkowski’s already on thin ice with respect to SCOTUS votes after she refused to support Brett Kavanaugh. So maybe Biden can’t bank on her this time.
Lisa Murkowski, who up for re-elect, makes clear her past vote to confirm KBJ to DC circuit doesn’t mean she’s a YES on SCOTUS. “I’ve been clear that previously voting to confirm an individual to a lower court does not signal how I will vote for a Supreme Court justice.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 25, 2022
How about Lindsey Graham, though? You can always rely on him to cross the aisle for a well-qualified Democratic nominee.
Or can you?
I expect a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 25, 2022
That … does not sound like a man who’s prepared to vote yes on Jackson again. There’s no mystery why: Graham went all-in on touting Judge Michelle Childs, a native of his home state of South Carolina, for this nomination instead. Childs has a reputation as a moderate and certainly would have drawn more Republican support than Jackson, the progressive choice, will. The petulant tone of Graham’s tweets makes it sound like he’s prepared to hold Biden’s snub of Childs against him by voting no on Jackson.
No big deal, though. That means Jackson still has 51 votes in the bank, right?
Not so fast. Go read Ed’s post yesterday about Joe Manchin’s take on this nomination. Evidently Manchin was a Childs booster too, relishing the fact that she was educated in public schools instead of the Ivy League. And Manchin is always gung ho for bipartisan congressional action. The fact that Childs would have gotten more GOP votes than Jackson will means he’s disappointed with the pick today.
Disappointed enough to vote no on Jackson, though? I wouldn’t rule it out completely. Having already alienated the left by blocking BBB and voting rights legislation, maybe Manchin has decided that he no longer feels obliged for partisan reasons to do them any favors.
Biden still has one ace in the hole, though: Susan Collins. She was the third Republican vote for Jackson last year. And she sounded enthusiastic enough about the nomination today.
Sen. Collins sounds warm on KBJ: “Ketanji Brown Jackson is an experienced federal judge with impressive academic and legal credentials.
I will conduct a thorough vetting … and look forward to her public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to meeting with her”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 25, 2022
Would Collins really be willing to provide the 50th vote if Murkowski, Graham, and Manchin are no’s, though?
Eh, I don’t think it matters. There’s next to no chance that Manchin or any other Democrat will vote no. Remember that Manchin voted to support Kavanaugh; he tends to give the president the benefit of the doubt on SCOTUS nominees. (Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination was an exception because he objected to confirming a new nominee so close to the election.) It’s unthinkable that he’d vote yes on Kavanaugh but no on the historic nomination of the first black woman to the Court. Especially now that Childs’s chief backer, James Clyburn, has issued a statement insisting that he’s foursquare behind her:
Jim Clyburn—who had pressured Biden to pick SC's J. Michelle Childs for Supreme Court—calls Ketanji Brown Jackson an "outstanding judge" and offers his "full support during the confirmation process and beyond." pic.twitter.com/e4nNG6meln
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 25, 2022
Manchin voted to confirm Jackson to the D.C. Circuit just nine months ago. Unless something comes out at her confirmation hearing, on what grounds would he oppose confirming her again? “I’m butthurt that another person didn’t get nominated” isn’t a good enough reason.
Although it might be for Graham. Probably the only suspense in the confirmation spectacle will be watching to see if he can talk himself into pandering to the GOP base by coming up with a reason to vote no on Jackson now after voting for her once before.
Here’s Jackson’s introduction today, in which she celebrated her faith and her country. She’s off to a good start.
Ketanji Brown Jackson: “My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith. Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country.” pic.twitter.com/7Z78dimSES
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 25, 2022