Durbin pushing to confirm Biden’s Supreme Court pick by April 8
The Illinois senator, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the committee will start its “formal investigation” on Friday with a confirmation hearing to be held “within the next several weeks.”
The goal of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court by April 8, which will be 43 days from Friday, when President Joe Biden tapped her to be the first Black female member of the nation’s highest court.
Durbin, the number-two Democrat in the Senate, will preside over her history-making confirmation hearing, which will also be a high point in his long Senate career.
Speaking to reporters in Chicago — at an event to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — Durbin said White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain called him Friday morning to tell him Biden picked Jackson to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.
“We know her well. She has appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on three different occasions and received bipartisan support, most recently in the last year,” said Durbin.
He is aiming to wrap up the confirmation before April 8, when the Senate leaves for spring break.
Durbin said the Judiciary Committee will start its “formal investigation” on Friday with a confirmation hearing to be held “within the next several weeks.”
If Republicans and special interest groups complain about Durbin’s speedy timetable, consider:
• Former President Donald Trump sprinted to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed before the 2020 election, while the Republicans still controlled the White House and Senate. It took Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then in charge of the Senate, only 27 days to move Barrett from nomination to a final confirmation vote.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the time between nomination and confirmation for Justice Brett Kavanaugh was 88 days; for Justice Neil Gorsuch, 65 days; for Justice Elena Kagan, 87 days; for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 66 days; for Justice Samuel Alito, 82 days. The sizzling confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas took 99 days. The Senate rejected Robert Bork’s nomination after 108 days.
• This will be Jackson’s fourth Senate confirmation — the most recent was last year — so she’s been vetted a lot and the Judiciary Committee already has a lot of her paperwork. Past confirmation votes may not predict future support when it comes to the high-stakes Supreme Court.
Still, there are no signs Jackson will spark a bruising fight unless some new information surfaces. At present, the court is a 6-3 divide between conservatives and liberals. Jackson replacing Breyer will not, in the short run, have the same impact on the ideological divide as when Barrett took Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat in 2020.
As for her past Senate action, Jackson was confirmed on a 53-44 roll call vote to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 14, 2021.
Former President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to be a U.S. District Court judge in Washington D.C. and she was confirmed on a voice vote on March 23, 2013.
Obama also tapped Jackson to be a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and she was approved on a voice vote on Feb. 11, 2010.
Last June, Jackson, with undergrad and law degrees from Harvard, won the votes of three GOP senators — from Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Graham is already complaining about Jackson, even thought he backed her in the past and has voted for most of Biden’s judicial picks. What changed is this: Biden ignored Graham’s strong push for Judge Michelle Childs of the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.
CHICAGO ‘FIRSTS’ — LIGHTFOOT, STRATTON, FOXX — ON JACKSON
Illinois has for years produced Black females — all Democrats, as it happens — elected to city, state, county and federal positions. We’re still on a lot of firsts. Not seconds or thirds.
The first Black female Illinois lieutenant governor, Juliana Stratton, reacting to the Jackson nomination, said in a Tweet: “Black history is being made every day. This is a momentous occasion worth celebrating!”
Chicago’s first Black female mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said in a statement that if Jackson is confirmed — “as it should be” — it will not be because “she’s Black, not because she’s a woman, but because she is a damn fine judge.”
Cook County’s first Black female state’s attorney, Kim Foxx — a prosecutor — tweeted her praise for Biden on the diversity front for picking a former federal public defender “whose lived experience make her a fair and equitable judge.”
Biden delivered on his campaign promise to nominate the first black female justice. Since the Supreme Court was created in 1789, there have been 115 justices. And because the system was rigged for them, 108 of those justices have been white men.