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Wake Up To Politics - March 25, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: What’s next for KBJ?
Wake Up To Politics - March 25, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Friday, March 25, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 228 days away. Election Day 2024 is 956 days away.

What’s next for KBJ?

After nearly 34 hours of questioning over three days, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson are officially over.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee had promised a calm and understated affair, but the hearings grew increasingly contentious as the days went on — featuring repeated interruptions of the nominee and harsh words between members of the committee.

Still, GOP attempts to highlight Jackson’s rulings on child pornography offenders don’t appear to have derailed her nomination, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared on Thursday that she is “on track” to be confirmed by early next month.

Jackson walking into the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room this week. (Judiciary Committee)

Here’s the path ahead for Jackson’s nomination...

The next step is for Jackson to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel has already scheduled a meeting to consider her nomination on Monday — but committee rules allow the minority to request the nomination be “held over” for an additional week.

That request is traditionally fulfilled, so expect a committee vote to take place on Monday, April 4.

Is there an opportunity for Republicans to delay it further? Yes, but don’t expect them to go for it. All of the Republicans on the committee, except for Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), did pen a letter calling for the nomination to be paused until they receive certain documents related to Jackson’s sentencing of sex offenders.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the committee’s chair, quickly shot them down, leaving Republicans with only one possible strategy to block a vote on Jackson: Boycotting the committee meeting.

Because the Senate is tied 50-50, every committee is too, and the chamber’s rules require a majority of a committee to be present to report a nomination to the floor. That means Republicans could theoretically all boycott the April 4 vote, and Jackson would not be able to advance.

Republicans did recently use that strategy to block President Biden’s nominees for the Federal Reserve, but they insist they won’t do so for Jackson. “There’s not going to be any boycott,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told reporters. “There’s zero, not one iota chance that we would boycott.”

As Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin is charged with ushering Jackson’s nomination to the floor. (Center for American Progress)

Still, the committee vote on April 4 is likely to be tied. What does that mean? None of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are expected to vote for Jackson, which means the panel will tie and won’t able to favorably report her nomination to the floor.

That won’t be too big a deal: when a committee is tied on a nomination, it just means the Senate has to vote on a discharge petition to take the matter out of committee and onto the floor. The petition only requires a simple majority, so it should pass easily.

Really, this will only add a few hours to the process, and will likely be resolved on the same day as the committee vote. However, it will be historic: according to Politico, if Jackson does arrive on the floor through the discharge petition, she will be the first Supreme Court nominee to do so since William Micou in 1853. (Micou, nominated by President Millard Fillmore, was ultimately not confirmed.)

So, when will the final confirmation vote take place? If the committee vote and discharge petition are handled on April 4, the Senate will likely hold its final confirmation vote on Jackson later that week.

The chamber will leave for Easter recess on Friday, April 8, giving Democrats a hard deadline for the vote.

Who will support Jackson during the vote remains up in the air. All 50 Senate Democrats have voted for every one of Biden’s judicial nominees so far, though, and Jackson is not likely to be different.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), often a swing vote, did not appear to be swayed by the child pornography arguments raised by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). “It’s Hawley, right?” Manchin said. “Take that for what it’s worth.”

Democratic support alone (plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris) would be enough to confirm Jackson, but she is expected to get at least some Republican votes.

Sen. Susan Collins is a possible GOP vote for Jackson’s nomination. (Gage Skidmore)

Who are Jackson’s most likely GOP supporters? Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both supported Jackson’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit last year, so they probably represent her best chances at bipartisan support.

A third Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also voted for Jackson last year, but he is not expected to do so again, especially after his heated questioning of Jackson at the hearing. “You view on how to deter child pornography is not my view,” he told the nominee on Wednesday. “I think you are doing it wrong, and every judge who does what you are doing is making it easier for the children to be exploited.”

Other possible “yea” votes include moderate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and retiring Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Richard Burr (R-NC). “My heart would like to be able to vote for her confirmation,” Romney has said, pointing to the historic nature of her nomination as the first Black woman tapped for the nation’s highest court.

Romney also shot down the child pornography argument (“There’s no ‘there’ there,” he said), while the group of retirees have praised Jackson’s qualifications and her trailblazing status.

One Republican senator who won’t be voting for Jackson: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who made his (widely expected) opposition to Jackson official on Thursday.

“After studying the nominee’s record and watching her performance this week, I cannot and will not support Judge Jackson for a lifetime appointment to our highest court,” McConnell said.

With slim Republican support, Jackson’s confirmation is expected to be one of the closest in Supreme Court history — but, barring any surprises, she should have her spot on the court locked down in two weeks or less.

Catch up

What else you should know this morning.
President Biden announced a new tranche of sanctions against Russia and plans to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainain refugees into the U.S. while in Brussels on Thursday.

  • Biden also joined calls for Russia to be expelled from the G-20, a group of the world’s largest economies, and promised that NATO would respond “in kind” if Russia uses chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
  • Additionally, earlier this morning, Biden and the head of the European Union announced a new partnership in which the U.S. will boost its natural gas exports to Europe as the continent attempts to wean itself off of Russian energy. Virginia Thomas, the right-wing activist and wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, encouraged the Trump White House to pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to a new series of texts obtained by the Washington Post and CBS News.
  • “The Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History,” Thomas wrote in one of the texts, which are being examined by the House January 6 committee. The texts have only added more scrutiny to her husband, who did not recuse himself from cases related to the election or the January 6 investigation despite his wife’s activism.Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has reportedly restarted talks with fellow Democrats to craft a compromise version of the party’s climate and social spending package. Manchin tanked the previous iteration of the bill, which was known as the Build Back Better Act.
Virginia Thomas is causing fresh problems for her Supreme Court justice husband. (Gage Skidmore)

Look ahead

What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)


  • President Biden woke up in Brussels, Belgium. Earlier this morning, he met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and delivered a joint statement with her, before traveling to Rzeszów, Poland.
  • At 9:55 a.m., Biden will receive a briefing on the humanitarian response to aid civilians still in Ukraine and refugees who have fled. At 10:50 a.m., he will meet with service members from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, who are stationed in Poland to protect NATO’s eastern flank.
  • Finally, at 12:45 p.m., Biden will travel from Rzeszów to Warsaw, Poland, where he will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Saturday before returning to Washington, D.C.
  • Vice President Harris will meet with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators at 3 p.m.
  • First Lady Jill Biden will spend time in three cities today. At 11 a.m., she will attend a memorial service in Philadelphia. At 3:45 p.m., she will visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis to highlight programs supporting pediatric cancer patients, and to meet with patients from Ukraine.
  • At 9 p.m., she will attend a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Denver.
  • White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre held a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to Rzeszów. National security adviser Jake Sullivan also participated. CONGRESS
  • The House and Senate are out until Monday.CONGRESS
  • The Supreme Court will meet for its weekly conference to discuss pending cases and petitions.

Before I go...

A hopeful news story to start your weekend: “10 strangers come together for a life-changing kidney swap,” via NPR

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If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe