Supreme Court nominee Jackson heading to Capitol Hill

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will meet today with senators Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will meet with congressional leaders on Wednesday, taking her first steps toward confirmation as Senate Democrats and the White House are pushing for a swift timeline.

Jackson will meet Wednesday morning with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. She will then visit with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, later in the day.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, poses for a portrait last month in her office at the court in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

She’ll continue to make the customary rounds to senators’ offices in the coming days as the Judiciary panel prepares for hearings expected in mid-March. Senate Democrats are hoping they can vote on her confirmation to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer by mid-April.

If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black female justice in the court’s more than 200-year history. Breyer has said he won’t leave the bench until this summer, when the court’s session is over, but Democrats are taking no chances in case there is any shift in their narrow 50-50 majority. Vice President Kamala Harris provides the deciding vote.

On Tuesday evening, President Joe Biden touted Jackson’s nomination and honored Breyer in his State of the Union speech.

“One of our nation’s top legal minds, who will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence,” he said of Jackson.

Jackson, 51, was confirmed last year as a federal appeals court judge in Washington after eight years on the district court. She once worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks and served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy.

Biden said she was a “consensus builder,” noting her work as a private litigator and as a federal public defender, and that she comes from a family of public school educators and police officers.

In a 149-page questionnaire Jackson returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, she revealed that she was first contacted by the White House Jan. 30, three days after Breyer announced his retirement. Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, had long been seen as Biden’s top candidate for the job, which he had promised would go to a Black woman.

Jackson met with Harris in a video call on Feb. 11 and then interviewed with Biden at the White House on Feb. 14, she says in the questionnaire. Biden called and offered her the nomination on Feb. 24, a day before he made his decision public.

The questionnaire provides the committee with a record of every job she has held and the decisions she has made in her nine years as a federal judge, as well as any recusals and potential conflicts of interest. Senators and staff will be able to vet that information much more quickly than they would have for other candidates since they just considered her last year for her current position.

Jackson’s list of her most significant cases contains only one new entry from the appeals court, describing an opinion she wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that came out in favor of labor unions.

Durbin said Monday he’s still hoping to win some GOP votes for her confirmation, even though many Republicans have expressed skepticism that Jackson is too liberal. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson to the appeals court last year.

While Collins has appeared open to voting for Jackson again, Murkowski said in a statement last week that her previous vote did not mean she would be supportive this time.

Graham had pushed for a different candidate from his home state, federal district court Judge J. Michelle Childs, and expressed disappointment that she was not Biden’s pick.

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