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GOP Sen. Susan Collins will vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, bipartisan support for historic Supreme Court nominee

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/30/2022 Dylan Wells, USA TODAY
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WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced Wednesday that she intends to vote yes on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court. The announcement means Jackson will be confirmed to the court with bipartisan support.

"After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court," Collins said in a statement. "I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position."

Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the country's highest court.  

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On Friday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced he, too, would support the nomination, all but guaranteeing Jackson's confirmation. The Senate is evenly split, with 50 Democratic caucus members and 50 Republican members. Jackson needs a simple majority of 51 of the 100 senators to be confirmed. 

Swing votes for Jackson: Manchin to vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, likely ensuring she will be the first Black woman on Supreme Court

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Collins' announcement means there won't be a tie vote that Vice President Kamala Harris would need to break. More Republicans could come out in support of Jackson, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska or Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who said Tuesday he had yet to make a decision. 

Collins, Murkowski and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voted yes on her appointment to her current federal court role. Graham's aggressive questioning and remarks during the confirmation hearing, however, suggest he is unlikely to support Jackson this time around. 

More: Two-thirds of Americans back Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court, poll shows

Speaking to reporters after her initial meeting with Jackson in early March, Collins said, "I think it's important to recognize that she has been confirmed three times now, so this is not a candidate who has a blank slate to us." 

Their initial one-on-one meeting lasted more than an hour and a half, during which Collins said she asked Jackson about a decision she made that was overturned by the circuit court. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 8, 2022. © Carolyn Kaster, AP Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 8, 2022.

GOP pushed Jackson on her record

During the confirmation hearings last week, Republicans pressed Jackson on her record sentencing defendants in child porn cases and as a federal public defender representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In sometimes acrimonious back and forth, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Jackson about her views of court packing, critical race theory and gender. 

Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings: Graham, Jackson spar over child pornography sentencing

"In my meetings with Judge Jackson, we discussed in depth several issues that were raised in her hearing.  Sometimes I agreed with her; sometimes I did not.  And just as I have disagreed with some of her decisions to date, I have no doubt that, if Judge Jackson is confirmed, I will not agree with every vote that she casts as a Justice," Collins said.   

"That alone, however, is not disqualifying," she added. 

Takeaways: Judicial philosophy to child porn sentencing: Key takeaways from Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court hearings

Collins' Supreme Court vote history

Collins voted yes on Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, but no on Justice Amy Coney Barrett, which Collins said was because it was so close to the presidential election.

"In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee.  It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want," Collins said in her statement Wednesday.

"This is the approach that I plan to continue to use for Supreme Court nominations because it runs counter to the disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process."

Contributing: Bart Jansen

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: GOP Sen. Susan Collins will vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, bipartisan support for historic Supreme Court nominee

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