Manchin backs Biden Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson

Senate could confirm Jackson as soon as early April

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Sen. Joe Manchin Friday said that he will support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court, as the nominee inches closer to confirmation

"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, D-W.Va., said in a Friday statement. 

"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," Manchin also said. "During our meeting, she was warm and gracious. On top of her impressive resume, she has the temperament to make an exceptional jurist."

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Democrats were expected to remain united behind Jackson, who President Biden chose to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in February. But Manchin was key to blocking multiple Biden nominees to key posts since last year and therefore was not considered as much of a given to support Jackson as other rank-and-file Democrat senators. Manchin most recently blocked the confirmation of former Federal Reserve vice chair for supervision nominee Sarah Bloom Raskin. 

Other Senate Democrats who either have a moderate streak or are up for reelection this year have yet to officially back Jackson. They include Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., but there's been no real indication GOP attacks on the nominee are having any effect on those Democrats. 

Jackson is currently on track to be confirmed some time in early April. 

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Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced the committee will meet to consider Jackson's nomination on Monday, March 28. Committee Republicans are expected to hold over Jackson's nomination for a week after that, leading to a committee vote on the nominee as early as April 4. 

Democrats are expected to move as quickly as possible to confirm Jackson given the number of variables in the 50-50 Senate, including the possibility a senator could be sidelined with a health issue, including COVID-19. The Senate does not allow remote voting. 

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In the case united GOP opposition to Jackson in committee – which is split 11-11 in the evenly divided chamber – Senate Democrats can still bring her nomination to the floor through a process called a discharge motion. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., can make that motion as early as the day after the tied committee vote, and immediately after the Senate could move onto the nomination. 

With a GOP filibuster expected, final confirmation could happen as early as Thursday, April 7 or Friday, April 8, although that timetable could slip into the following weekend or the next week for a variety of reasons. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

And it could be delayed further if a Democrat has COVID-19 or is forced to be absent from the Senate for another reason. 

Assuming all 50 Democrats in the Senate back Jackson, they can confirm the nominee even in the face of united GOP opposition with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris. 

Republicans raised several concerns about Jackson during her confirmation hearings, including allegedly soft sentences she handed out to child porn offenders during her time on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They also attacked Jackson over allegedly lenient treatment of a fentanyl dealer, and for not outlining her judicial philosophy in sufficient detail. 

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Democrats, however, universally lauded Jackson for her performance in two days of marathon hearings and slammed Republicans for their treatment of the nominee. 

"She is an inspiration to all of us, to our families, those of us that have daughters, and  granddaughters both White and Black," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said of Jackson Wednesday. "She will be confirmed. She'll be a star of the Supreme Court, and I, for one, will proudly cast my vote for her." 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., accused Republicans of "truly poisonous, cynical behavior that trolled through the absolute bottom of what the Senate has done in dark times past."