By the end of this week, the Senate will be voting on Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Breyer. Anyone who watched the Senate committee hearings (or read about them) knows that the Republicans were just awful, turning it into a partisan "gotcha" show with stupid questions and grandstanding. When it came time to vote on whether to advance her nomination to the full Senate, the vote was tied at 11-11.
This required getting the full Senate to vote on the advancement to.... the full Senate.
Three Republican senators broke ranks, and voted to advance her: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Mitt Romney (R-UT). It's very likely the vote this week for confirmation will mirror the vote to advance her to this final step. The three remaining "moderate" senators are sending a message to their colleagues
By breaking with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, three Republican moderates sent a clear message that they aren’t happy about how partisan Supreme Court confirmation proceedings have become.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah) firmly rejected the tactics of more conservative colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who grilled Jackson during her confirmation hearings and accused her of being soft on child pornography offenders.
Murkowski told reporters that she thought colleagues such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went too far in challenging Jackson to defend her record, though she didn’t mention anyone by name.
“Some were not super great,” she said. “I think there was a level of personal attack that was unwarranted.”
All three centrist Republicans have raised concerns about how Supreme Court confirmation debates have become partisan food fights.
Collins said she hopes her vote for the nominee will help lower the partisan temperature of the Senate confirmation process.
“I think what needs to happen is first of all people need to ignore groups like Demand Justice that are pressuring them to vote one way or the other on Supreme Court justices,” she said, referring to the progressive advocacy group that pressured Justice Stephen Breyer to retire and in February announced a $1 million advertising buy to support Jackson’s nomination.
“And second, we need to get back to what Congress clearly delineates as the role for the Senate versus the president,” Collins said, alluding to her view that Congress should give the president, regardless of party, “considerable deference” on high court nominees.
She argues that giving more deference to the president in filling the court, as the Senate did when it confirmed Reagan nominee Antonin Scalia 98-0 and Clinton nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg 96-3, “helped keep the court above the political fray.”
Of course - Senate Minority leader (and Worst Person in the World)
Mitch McConnell is having none of it:
After Collins, Murkowski and Romney sent a clear signal that they want to turn down the partisan temperature surrounding Supreme Court confirmation proceedings, McConnell on Tuesday declined to say whether he would allow President Biden to fill another court vacancy if Republicans win back the Senate majority in November.
“What I can say with pretty great certainty is the president who ran as a moderate and who has governed as Bernie Sanders would, would have to spend the last two years of his term being a moderate,” McConnell told reporters when asked if he would commit to holding a vote on another Biden Supreme Court nominee if he again becomes Senate majority leader in 2023.
McConnell famously kept Scalia’s seat vacant for most of 2016 after the conservative justice died in February of that year, refusing to grant then-President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote.
I remember being disappointed (okay - pissed) when Collins voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the bench. It appears she'll pretty much vote for anyone. In this case, I'll take it.