SCOTUS

GOP Senator Defects to Back Biden’s SCOTUS Pick

Senator Susan Collins of Maine has effectively doomed the effort to keep President Biden’s controversial SCOTUS pick off the court by becoming the first Republican to announce that she will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and most other Senate Republicans are opposing Jackson but their odds of preventing her confirmation for a lifetime place on the court are becoming increasingly slim.

Collins announces support for SCOTUS nominee

Collins is regarded as generally the most liberal Republican in the Senate, and her defection on the Jackson confirmation is not especially surprising.

The Maine senator claims that she believes that Jackson is qualified for the position and that recent SCOTUS confirmation hearings have been overly politicized.

Opinions on the nominee are neatly split along party lines, but in a less politicized climate there might have been even more opposition to Biden’s pick.

Retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer has been strongly opposed to the idea of expanding the court, something that Biden and other Democrats have suggested as a remedy to the current conservative majority.

Jackson’s confirmation would not immediately alter the court’s composition, but she has appeared to be at least somewhat open to the idea of court packing and this has been enough to earn opposition from McConnell.

Other Republican criticism focused on claims that she has previously been overly lenient in sentencing criminals, particularly child pornography offenders.

More defections possible

Senator Collins is a significant defection but the confirmation of Jackson was already more or less certain after Democrat Joe Manchin announced that he would support her.

Manchin is the most moderate Democrat in the Senate, and he has frequently opposed Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

At least one Democrat needed to defect for the Republicans to have any chance of ending Jackson’s SCOTUS hopes, and Manchin was by far the most likely candidate.

Jackson needs only a simple majority to be confirmed, and with the Senate evenly split between parties Vice President Kamala Harris would have had the tie breaking vote if there were no defections on either side.

Collins, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham, voted to confirm Jackson when Biden nominated her for an appeals court position last year.

Graham has been more hostile towards Jackson this time, but Murkowski and Mitt Romney may still join Collins in giving Jackson a small faction of Republican supporters.

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