WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Friday he plans to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, praising her "exemplary" record and career and labeling her "supremely qualified" to be a justice.
The centrist Democrat's support gives Jackson's nomination a major boost after four days of contentious hearings, all but assuring her historic confirmation to be the first Black woman on the high court, as long as the rest of the Democratic caucus stays on board.
"After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court," Manchin said.
“Her wide array of experiences in varying sectors of our judicial system have provided Judge Jackson a unique perspective that will serve her well on our nation’s highest court,” he said in a statement, offering glowing praise of Jackson as “warm and gracious” and holding “the temperament to make an exceptional jurist.”
Democrats have been lining up in Jackson's corner throughout the week, and so far have seen no defections on President Joe Biden's nominee. As long as the 50 members of the caucus vote for her, they won't need Republican support, although party leaders remain optimistic about winning at least a few GOP votes.
Another Democrat from a conservative state, Sen. Jon Tester, of Montana, announced his support for Jackson on Friday, praising her qualifications and "commitment to the rule of law."
The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on Jackson's nomination April 4, and the full Senate is expected to vote later that week.
The two most closely-watched Republicans are Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska — both voted to confirm Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year. Neither has taken a position yet on her Supreme Court nomination.
Collins met with Jackson earlier this month and sounded upbeat.
Murkowski told NBC News on Thursday that she has been dealing with the death of Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and has yet to dive in.
“I’ve got to focus some time this weekend on the Supreme Court before we do the lying in state next week," she said. "So my head’s all over the place.”