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McConnell to vote against Jackson's Supreme Court nomination

The Senate GOP leader said he took issue with Ketanji Brown Jackson's responses at her confirmation hearing.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that he will not vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, citing her responses this week to questions about "court packing."

“I went into the Senate process with an open mind, but after studying the nominee’s record and watching her performance this week, I cannot and will not support Judge Jackson for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” McConnell, R-Ky, said on the Senate floor.

McConnell suggested in his remarks that he thought Jackson would be an activist judge, and he faulted her for not taking a position on court packing — adding justices to the nine-member Supreme Court.

“Judge Jackson refuses to reject the fringe position that Democrats should try to pack the Supreme Court,” McConnell said, adding that the question should have been “an easy softball” for her, “but it wasn’t.”

Jackson noted during her confirmation hearing that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge whom McConnell championed for the Supreme Court in 2020, sidestepped a similar question during her hearing, saying she wouldn’t “opine” on the issue.

McConnell noted that liberal justices like Stephen Breyer and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg “had no problem denouncing this unpopular view and defending their institution.” The two justices made those remarks after they were on the court.

He added that Jackson “seemingly actually tipped her hand” during her testimony this week. “She said she would be ‘thrilled to be one of however many.’ However many,” McConnell said.

“Nothing we saw this week convinced me that President Biden’s or Judge Jackson’s far-left fan club had misjudged her. I will vote against this nominee on the Senate floor,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Jackson's nomination April 4, setting up a likely vote in the full Senate later in the month. No Democratic-voting senators have indicated they would oppose her.

McConnell had not been expected to back President Joe Biden's historic pick — he voted against Jackson's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., last year — but Thursday's announcement could open the floodgates for other GOP senators to follow suit and potentially set up a party-line vote for Jackson, who would be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The Senate confirmed Jackson last year to her current post by a vote of 53-44, with support from just three Republicans: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Graham, however, was openly antagonistic toward Jackson at her confirmation hearings this week, criticizing her sentencings in child pornography cases.

Graham, who has yet to reveal how he plans to vote, said Thursday, "I'm inclined to vote for nominees," but suggested he might hold Jackson to different standard for the Supreme Court than he did for the federal appeals court. "I thought she was qualified to be on the circuit court. This is a different game," he said.

Asked whether that meant he would vote against her, Graham said, “Now just stay tuned."