Senate battles continue over Supreme Court as committee deadlocks on vote on nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson

Republicans and Democrats are still clashing over Judge Jackson’s nomination despite almost certain confirmation.

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History is still waiting in the wings this week in Washington after the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on its vote on Monday to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the full Senate for a vote that is expected Thursday or Friday.

Senators on Monday voted along party lines 11-11 in the Judiciary Committee on sending Jackson’s nomination to the full, evenly split upper chamber of Congress. This is the first such tie for a Supreme Court justice since 1991, according to The Hill. The next step is for the Senate, led by Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, to discharge Judge Jackson’s nomination from the committee and send it forward for a full vote later this week.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

While all this is happening, Judge Jackson has continued to meet with Senators for one-on-ones to sway them to support her nomination. Monday’s committee vote fell on the 54th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Martin Luther King III told theGrio of this historic moment, “I feel and hope she will be confirmed and she will be an outstanding justice. But there’s more work to be done because the [Supreme Court], as we know, six members are from the conservative realm and…even more diversity needs to occur on the court.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Bidens nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, and former Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are seen in between meetings in Russell Building on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

TheGrio spoke with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who voted in favor of Jackson’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee on Monday. Despite Monday’s party-line vote, the Minnesota senator said that efforts were made to bring Republicans on board for a yes vote in the judiciary committee.

Democratic senators have been working for bipartisan support in the full Senate, where Jackson is expected to garner the needed 50 votes to be confirmed as the nation’s first Black woman Supreme Court justice.

After the committee vote, Klobuchar contends, “You’re going to see a bunch of speeches this coming week on the floor and then we’ll have the vote on Thursday or Friday, the final vote.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, who by law is “President of the Senate,” would only have to cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie, and then that would be enough.

According to Klobuchar, the Democratic counting “looks as though for sure it’s not going to be tied because every Democrat is supporting her. And then you add in Senator Collins” a Republican Senator.

However, despite Judge Jackson’s almost certain confirmation, the Judiciary Committee was not without contention over her nomination. During a speech on Monday, Sen. Lindsay Graham, who voted for Jackson when she was confirmed for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit court but said last week that he would not vote to confirm her for the Supreme Court, slammed Democrats over the Supreme Court process.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson (left) meets with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (right) in Graham’s Capitol Hill office on March 15. Graham has announced he’ll be voting against Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Reiterating his gripe over Janice Rogers Brown, a Black woman conservative judge nominated by then-President George W. Bush for the D.C. circuit court, being filibustered by then-Senator Joe Biden and other Democratic senators, Graham argued that Judge Jackson would not be the first Black woman Supreme Court justice had Janice Rogers Brown not been blocked.

“When you had a chance to support an African American conservative, you used her ideology against her. You blocked her from being considered by this committee, and we’re supposed to be like trained seals over here clapping when you appoint a liberal. That’s not going to work.” said Graham. 

“We live in America today, where your ideology is held against you if you’re a conservative, and when you’re a liberal we’re supposed to embrace everything about you and not ask hard questions. That’s not the world we’re going to live in.”

Sen. Graham vowed that if Republicans were to gain back control of the Senate, “the process you started to go to a simple majority vote is going to rear its head.”

In a statement responding to Graham’s committee remarks provided to theGrio, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said, “Senate Republicans admit that if they held the majority, the first Black woman, and one of the most qualified people nominated to serve on the Supreme Court would not even have received a hearing. 

“The ridiculous double standard and vicious attacks Judge Jackson has been subjected to underscore what’s at stake for Black Americans in this election – and they will energize Black voters to make our voices heard. The stakes for protecting and expanding our Democratic Senate majority with the power to confirm Supreme Court justices could not be more clear.”

The Supreme Court is a major focus this week in the Senate and also in the House, as the Jan. 6 select committee is also focused on the discovery of evidence about Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni Thomas and her connections to the deadly insurrection by way of emails to then-Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in which she requested he do something to overturn the 2020 presidential election win of Joe Biden.

Chair of the Jan. 6 committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, told theGrio last week at the White House, “clearly she’s come up in some of the discoveries we’ve had as a committee. It is a topic of discussion for the committee. Over the next few days we will give it serious consideration.”

Mrs. Thomas’s texts to Meadows and some of her other conversations have given pause to discovery for the Jan. 6 committee, including her funding of buses for the rally that ultimately led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

(L-R) Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas arrive at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Klobuchar was asked about the irony with the Senate’s work on Judge Jackson and the House investigating alleged impropriety of the wife of the Supreme Court’s currently lone Black Supreme Court justice.

“I would call that irony. I also think it is shedding light on something that’s long been a problem that every other federal judge, including circuit court judges, have strict ethics rules…there is just none of that going on with the Supreme Court. They’re the only nine judges that don’t have any rules. And clearly, under those federal rules for every other judge, it says that if there is an appearance of impropriety because of a family member, that you recuse yourself,” said Klobuchar. “And so that’s why this is completely just very straightforward on the recusal front, as well as a continuing investigation by the Jan. 6 commission.”

Klobuchar noted that contrary to Justice Thomas’s ethical questions, Judge Jackson has exemplified and been praised for her “paragon of integrity.”

She added, “I think she’s the exact remedy for all this.”

TheGrio’s Gerren Keith Gaynor contributed to this report.

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