GOP response to Biden Supreme Court pick shows necessity of Democratic Party’s unity

Ketanji Brown Jackson will need every Democratic senator’s vote unless GOP defections occur

Watch live as Biden speaks about nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson may have been confirmed by the Senate multiple times, including recently as a federal appeals court judge, but that won’t make her path to the Supreme Court much easier if statements from Senate Republicans are any indication.

The federal appeals court judge was nominated by President Joe Biden to the Supreme Court on Friday, becoming the first Black woman to be nominated to the high court. Her nomination was met with mixed reactions on Capitol Hill as Democrats heaped praise on her and Republicans lamented that Mr Biden had not gone with a nominee suggested by some of their members.

The most caustic reaction to the news came on Friday from Sen Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who had been one of the biggest boosters for the nomination of Michelle Childs, a District Court judge based in his state.

Mr Graham offered no direct criticism of Ms Brown Jackson, revealingly, but he lamented that the “radical left” had supposedly forced Mr Biden’s hand on the issue.

“If media reports are accurate, and Judge Jackson has been chosen as the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Breyer, it means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again. The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked,” said Mr Graham on Twitter before the official White House announcement.

Other Republicans were more muted in their criticism, and few would go beyond saying that their past votes to confirm Ms Brown Jackson to the federal appeals bench should not be taken as an indication of whether they would support her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Among the Republicans to make that distinction was Lisa Murkowski, typically seen as one of the most bipartisan members of the GOP caucus. Her statement to that effect signaled that GOP support for Ms Brown Jackson could be hard to come by.

That would mean the dynamic in the Senate, which has empowered swing-vote Democrats like Joe Manchin, will likely continue as the Senate debates the nomination of Ms Jackson. Mr Manchin released his own statement on Friday that did not indicate whether Ms Jackson would have his support.

Other senators who are known for more partisan stances in the GOP have attacked Mr Biden in recent days for stating that his nominee would be the first Black woman to be nominated to the court, and one GOP senator on Friday even faulted the president for following through on his promise to make his choice public by the end of February given this week’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

“Once again, Biden is putting the demands of the radical progressive left ahead of what is best for our nation,” claimed Sen Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

The reaction from Republicans could be irrelevant if Mr Manchin and his fellow swing-vote Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, indicate that they will fall in line with their party.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to get rid of the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees in 2017, meaning that Democrats could secure Ms Brown Jackson’s nomination with the votes of all 50 Democratic senators and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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