Susan Collins praises Biden’s Supreme Court pick after meeting

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, on Tuesday, fueling Democratic hopes that they could pick up her vote.

Collins met with Jackson for roughly an hour and a half. She cautioned that she wouldn’t decide on whether to support Jackson until after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which are scheduled to start on March 21.

“I had a lengthy and very productive conversation today with Judge Jackson. I thought it went well. … It’s clear that her credentials and the breadth of her experience are impressive,” Collins said.

“Obviously, I don’t agree with her on every decision she has rendered. … But I felt that what I did get from her is that she takes a very thorough, careful approach in applying the law to the facts of the case, and that is what I want to see in a judge,” she added.

Collins has voted for every Supreme Court nominee since she joined the Senate in 1997 except Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Collins said at the time that her “no” vote wasn’t tied to Barrett’s qualifications but the timeline for confirming her just days before the 2020 presidential election. 

Collins is potentially Democrats’ best chance of picking up a Republican senator to support Jackson’s nomination. She was one of three GOP senators, in addition to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who voted for Jackson’s nomination last year to be an appeals judge.

Murkowski, who is up for reelection, has cautioned that her previous vote doesn’t automatically mean she’ll support Jackson to be a member of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Graham publicly urged the Biden administration to pick District Judge J. Michelle Childs, who was also on the Supreme Court shortlist. Republicans don’t expect him to support Jackson, but Graham hasn’t announced how he will vote and says he plans to meet with Jackson.

Democrats have worked to woo Collins.

Biden has spoken to Collins multiple times, in addition to her conversations with White House officials. Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also reached out to her quickly after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his intention to retire as he works to try to reassure Republicans that they’ll be able to meet with her and he fields documents request.

Collins previously told The Hill that she thought Durbin’s outreach had been “terrific.” She added on Tuesday that she has “confidence” in his ability to hold a “fair and thorough set of hearings.”

Democrats can confirm Jackson on their own if all 50 of their members are present and stick together. But being able to peel off at least one GOP vote would let them be able to tout Jackson’s nomination as bipartisan.

Jackson’s nomination, so far, has been relatively drama-free. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, did raise concerns this week about the timeline for starting a committee hearing on March 21, saying that Democrats shouldn’t “rush” the nomination to meet an “arbitrary timeline.”

But he also downplayed speculation that Republicans could boycott the committee vote to try to bottleneck her nomination at the committee level. 

“I haven’t heard anybody else even say they want to boycott,” Grassley said. 

Collins also indicated on Tuesday that she was comfortable with the timeline, noting that Jackson had previously gone through the Senate confirmation process for a lower court.

“I think it’s important to recognize that she has been confirmed three times now, so this is not a candidate that is a blank slate,” she said.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Biden Supreme Court nominee Chuck Grassley Dick Durbin Joe Biden Judiciary Committee Ketanji Brown Jackson Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Stephen Breyer Supreme Court Supreme Court nomination Supreme Court nominee Susan Collins
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