WASHINGTON — The Senate is poised to vote this week on whether to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, and she is in good shape to win a lifetime appointment and become the first Black woman on the court.
The Judiciary Committee convened a meeting Monday and will vote on whether to advance Jackson, 51, a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. The panel, split evenly between the parties, is expected to deadlock and require Democrats to hold a separate vote to "discharge" the nomination to the full Senate.
Democratic leaders hope to hold a final vote on the Senate floor as early as Thursday, but it could slide to Friday if Republicans use the delaying tactics available to the minority party to drag it out.
"The ultimate outcome I feel very positive about," Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Monday on MSNBC. "The members of the Senate are going to reach out and grab that arc of history and move it just a little bit closer to justice."
Durbin delayed the committee vote for several hours after a flight carrying one member, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., was diverted. Padilla, who took a different flight and was expected to arrive later on Monday, is an indispensable vote to advance the nominee.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Republican leadership who is retiring, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he will vote against Jackson, describing her as “certainly qualified” but voicing concerns about her “judicial philosophy,” echoing others in his party.
“I think she’s certainly going to be confirmed,” Blunt said. “I think it will be a high point for the country to see her go on the court and take her unique perspective to the court, but I don’t think she’s the kind of judge that will really do the kind of work that I think needs to be done by the court. And I won’t be supporting her, but I’ll be joining others in understanding the importance of this moment.”
The nomination requires 50 votes to succeed. Democrats have had no defections. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist swing vote in the party, has come out in favor of Jackson. On Monday, Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona announced his support for her. As long as they stick together, Republicans cannot block her.
Democrats have hailed Jackson as highly qualified with a breadth of experience and a mainstream approach to judging.
“She deserves more Republican votes,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday on ABC, calling Jackson “one of the most qualified nominees in modern history.”
“She has an outstanding academic record, outstanding record in private practice, on the sentencing commission,” he said. “And she acquitted herself before the committee admirably in the face of some ridiculous, absurd and debasing questions from some members.”
Just one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — has endorsed the nomination. Two other GOP prospects to confirm Jackson are Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted to confirm her last year to the appeals court, and Mitt Romney of Utah, who has expressed openness to backing her.
They have yet to announce how they will vote. It is unlikely any other Republican will support her.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested Monday that Jackson wouldn't gain approval from the Senate if it were run by Republicans.
"If we were in charge, she would not have been before this committee," he said. "You would have had somebody more moderate than this."
If she is confirmed, Jackson will replace retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, which would not shift the 6-3 conservative balance.