Collins to vote for KBJ. Will Murkowski be next?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

If you watched the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden’s nominee to replace Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, you probably know that they didn’t exactly go smoothly. Democrats have been outraged that some Republican senators had the temerity to actually ask the candidate questions about her past voting record and the possibility of recusing herself in cases where she had a demonstrable involvement with parties involved in one case. But KBJ made it through the hearings in one piece and is widely expected to be confirmed now that Joe Manchin has signaled his support. But would the nominee be getting any Republicans on her side to lend the patina of bipartisan agreement on her nomination? That question seems to have been answered. Susan Collins of Maine has now indicated that her concerns have been allayed and she will be comfortable tossing KBJ a vote. (National Review)

Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, according to a new report.

After holding a second personal meeting with Jackson on Tuesday afternoon, Collins told the New York Times she had decided to support President Biden’s nominee, saying that Jackson had alleviated some of her concerns that arose during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Collins, who often remains a swing vote on Supreme Court nominees, said she felt reassured that Jackson would not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference,” according to the report.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall for Collins’ second private meeting with Brown Jackson and been able to hear what she might have said that “alleviated” any concerns about her potentially “bending the law to meet a personal interest.” As with most nominees, she avoided as many questions as she possibly could during the hearings, leaving plenty of questions hanging. And keep in mind that this is the same nominee who appeared to be unable to define what a woman is, saying that she’s “not a biologist.”

So KJB will at least have one GOP vote on her side. And that’s one more minority party vote than Amy Coney Barrett received from the Democrats, so she’s got that going for her. But could there be any more GOP votes to come on the heels of Collins?

Another frequent “maverick” Republican vote might come from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski since she’s crossed party lines in the past. But according to one report from The Hill this week, that may not wind up happening. Murkowski is in a tough primary fight against a Trump-endorsed opponent, and a vote for Biden’s nominee could prove to be powerful campaign fodder against her.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is one of President Biden’s best hopes of attracting bipartisan support for his Supreme Court nominee, but it’s a tough vote as she faces a Republican primary challenger this year who has former President Trump’s backing.

Given the dynamics of a Senate Republican primary, a “no” vote is the safer choice, as it deprives her Trump-supported challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, of another issue to run on.

Tshibaka has called Biden’s nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, “a clear leftist” who would “undoubtedly follow her ideology in her rulings and write legislation from the bench.”

Murkowski is indeed in a bit of a tough spot here. She clearly doesn’t want to give Kelly Tshibaka yet another talking point to beat her over the head with. But Murkowski was one of only three Republican senators who voted for KBJ when she was confirmed for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer. A no vote here would force her to explain how it is that the nominee was a qualified candidate only nine months ago, but now she’s not.

Of course, if Murkowski winds up losing the primary over this vote or anything else, she’ll probably just start a write-in campaign as an independent. And she just might win, since she’s done it before. And KBJ is almost 100% sure to be confirmed now, though the Democrats will clearly keep complaining about GOP “racism” in the Senate, even though they didn’t cast a single vote for ACB, despite her sterling qualifications. In other words, it’s the same political theater that we always see. Only the names and dates change.