What You Should Know About the Upcoming Supreme Court Confirmation Process
History was made last month when President Joe Biden officially nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to the highest court in the land. Here is everything that you need to know to bring you up to speed about the nominee and the upcoming confirmation process.
Details of Nomination
The nomination of Jackson was set in motion earlier this year when current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he will retire this summer at the end of the session. As a left-leaning justice, it is no surprise that Breyer is retiring now so that Biden can have a chance to nominate a replacement of the same ideology.Read More »
Barrett Set New Standard
Democrats are looking to the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 as a guide on how to push through a nomination as quickly as possible. In the past, a Supreme Court justice confirmation has lasted for several months. However, Barrett was confirmed to the court in just a little over five weeks after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away in 2020. This all happened weeks ahead of the presidential election between Biden and former President Donald Trump.
While the confirmation of Jackson will likely take longer than Barrett’s process, Democrats are hoping to have it all wrapped up by the second week of April. It has been a fierce partisan battle over the last three confirmations with all three of these nominees chosen by Trump. The Democrats are hopeful that this process will not result in as much bickering on opposing sides of the aisle.
Biden is ready to get this confirmation started as the court currently has a definitive right-leaning edge. In addition to Breyer, the only justices now serving that were appointed by Democratic presidents are Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan. While Chief Justice John Roberts is known for straddling both sides of the aisle, the other five justices lean squarely to the right in their political ideologies.
Learning More About the Nominee
Jackson was first nominated by Biden in 2021 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she currently sits. She was confirmed last June easily by the Senate. Prior to this appointment, Jackson sat on the D.C. district court as a nominee of former President Barack Obama. In addition, Jackson has experience as a clerk for Breyer before he sat on the Supreme Court. She also worked on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Jackson was born in 1970 in Washington, D.C. before moving to Miami. She attended Harvard University for both her undergraduate and law school years. While in Cambridge, Jackson served as an editor for the prestigious Harvard Law Review.
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Through her marriage to surgeon Patrick G. Jackson, she is related to the former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Jackson is the mother to two daughters.
Biden made a promise during his time on the presidential campaign trail of 2020 that he would nominate a Black woman to the court.
What to Expect in the Weeks to Come
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is assuring that his branch of Congress will move forward quickly with a fair confirmation process. The next step is for the Senate Judiciary Committee to send Jackson a questionnaire and document request. This sets in the motion the extensive vetting process. In the meantime, senators can request to meet with Jackson privately in advance of the public hearings.
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Senators will have a few weeks to learn more about Jackson, her beliefs, her career qualifications, and the important decisions that she has made in her role as a federal judge. The official confirmation hearings may begin as early as mid-March. This part of the process is expected to last four to five days.
Though the deadline is not set in stone, Democrats are hoping that the confirmation process will be over by April 8. This is the date that the Senate will leave Washington, D.C. for its two-week spring recess. Should Jackson not be confirmed prior to this date, the whole process will be delayed by weeks.
The good news for Democrats is that Jackson has already been vetted by the same Senate Judiciary Committee just last year for her current position.
Factors Complicating the Aggressive Confirmation Timeline
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There are a number of complications that could throw a wrench in the aggressive confirmation timeline. The quickly escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine is certainly stealing the attention of both the White House and the Senate.
In addition, Democrats need New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján to return to the Senate after suffering a stroke several weeks ago. Because of the razor thin majority, the party needs Luján in order to guarantee smooth sailing. Without his vote, there would need to be a Republican to cross over to the other side of the aisle and vote to confirm Jackson.
Although Biden has repeatedly expressed a desire to grab some Republican support for his nomination, it will not be necessary if the vote passes along party lines. Republicans senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Lindsey Graham all voted to confirm Jackson to the federal appeals court last year.
Thus far, the Republican senators are playing it close to the vest regarding how they may vote when the time to confirm comes.
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