McConnell undecided on Biden SCOTUS nom Ketanji Brown Jackson

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McConnell undecided on Biden SCOTUS nom Ketanji Brown Jackson

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that he hasn’t decided whether he will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — President Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court — saying he was troubled by her refusal to object to expanding the nine-justice court.

McConnell (R-Ky.) said he met with Jackson, who would become the first black woman Supreme Court justice, if confirmed, in his Capitol Hill office last week and asked if she’d oppose expanding the court.

“She wouldn’t do that. So, in the meantime, the committee will ask her all the tough questions. I haven’t made a final decision as to how I’m going to vote,” McConnell said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“I’m going to listen to the evidence, I’m going to listen to the hearings, and by the way she’ll be treated much better than Democrats have typically treated Republican nominees like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh,” he added. “It’ll be a respectful, deep dive into her record which I think is entirely appropriate for a lifetime appointment.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing will begin Monday.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The Republican leader pointed out how Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, whom Jackson would replace if confirmed, have objected to packing the court as some Democrats have suggested.

“Typically, these Supreme Court nominees of both parties have never answered any of the questions. What they typically say is that, ‘Something might come before me and I don’t want to prejudge how I might actually vote,’” explained McConnell, who voted against Jackson’s nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last June.

Jackson’s confirmation hearing will begin Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and will continue through Thursday.

Supreme Court nominee and federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson departs with her White House escort and advisor, former U.S. Senator Doug Jones
Ketanji Brown Jackson departs with her White House escort and advisor, former Senator Doug Jones, after meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, March 2, 2022.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Biden announced last month that he was nominating Jackson, 51, to replace Breyer, who is stepping down from the bench, making good on a campaign promise to name a black woman to the court.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among three Republicans who voted for Jackson last year, along with Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, when she was confirmed 53-43.

But Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee unlike Collins and Murkowski, appears to have since changed his mind about Jackson.

United States Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked if Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would oppose expanding the court.
Pacific Coast News / Rod Lamkey – CNP

“If media reports are accurate, and Judge Jackson has been chosen as the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Breyer, it means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again,” he tweeted last month after her nomination was announced.

Another member of the panel, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was asked during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” about Sen. Josh Hawley’s accusations that Jackson treated child porn offenders with kid gloves during her judicial career, claims that the White House pushed back on last week as out of context.

“She is endorsed by so many leading law enforcement organizations in the country and attempts to smear or discredit her history and her work are not borne out in facts,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve in the position if confirmed.
EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Sasse said because Supreme Court justices enjoy lifetime tenure Jackson should undergo “vigorous, rigorous vetting of their records, and there are things in Judge Jackson’s record that are troubling. “

“I hope Judge Jackson will be very forthcoming and transparent, the American people and the United States Senate in our advice and consent responsibilities need to understand this, and there are things in this record that are troubling,” Sasse said.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said flat out that Hawley is wrong in his accusations.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. Mitch McConnell met with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson last week.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

“As far as Senator Hawley is concerned, here’s the bottom line — he’s wrong. He’s inaccurate and unfair in his analysis,” Durbin said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“Judge Jackson has been scrutinized more than any person I can think of. This is her fourth time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In three previous times, she came through with flying colors and bipartisan support, the last time as soon as just last year,” he said.

“And now, Senator Hawley is making these charges that came out of nowhere. The independent fact checkers like ‘The Washington Post’ and CNN have discredited his claims already. They should have. There’s no truth to what he says,” Durbin said.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Feb. 25, 2022,
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, Feb. 25, 2022.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Jackson, who wouldn’t alter the 6-3 conservative majority on the court, doesn’t need a Republican to help her win confirmation in the 50-50 divided Senate as long as all Democrats support her.

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