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A Key Democratic Senator Expresses Support for KBJ

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court got even more likely on Friday, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he would vote for her. 


In his lengthy statement, Manchin discussed the "constitutional obligation to advise and consent" that senators have, and shared how he had met with Judge Jackson. He also discussed her background and record, noting "Judge Jackson's record and career are exemplary."

"Her wide array of experiences in varying sectors of our judicial system have provided Judge Jackson a unique perspective that will serve her well on our nation’s highest court. During our meeting, she was warm and gracious," Manchin wrote towards the end of his statement. "On top of her impressive resume, she has the temperament to make an exceptional jurist. Notably, Judge Jackson and her family spend a great deal of time in West Virginia and her deep love of our state and commitment to public service were abundantly clear. I am confident Judge Jackson is supremely qualified and has the disposition necessary to serve as our nation’s next Supreme Court Justice."


Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has split with the party on a variety of issues and proposals, most notably the Build Back Better Act which he came out against and effectively killed last December. He also had been more partial to another potential nominee, Judge J. Michelle Childs, who serves as a district judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. 

Judge Jackson still has to be voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which could happen on April 4. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), one of the Republicans on the committee, was quoted by The Hill as confirming there will be no boycott of her nomination. "There’s not going to be any boycott. There’s zero, not one iota chance that we would boycott," he said. In October of 2020, however, Democrats on the committee boycotted now Justice Amy Coney Barrett's committee vote. 

Nevertheless, the committee may be deadlocked. POLITICO'S Congress Minutes for Friday explained what would happen next if the committee was tied:

  1. The Judiciary panel, split down the middle 11-11, deadlocks on Jackson's nomination.
  2. Its chair, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would notify the Senate of the tie vote and that fact would be printed in the record.
  3. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would then file what's known as a "motion to discharge" the committee from further consideration of her nomination. (See on page three of the chamber's rules how they've set up the process.)
  4. There would be four hours of debate on that motion — split evenly between both parties. After that, they would vote with a simple majority threshold. Vice President Kamala Harris would break a tie if one occurs. (Yep, we could see the first Black woman vice president break a tie on the first Black woman Supreme Court nominee.)
  5. If discharged, the nomination process would play out as normal. Eventually, Schumer would file a cloture motion to end debate. After that vote, there would then be up to 30 hours before a final confirmation vote.

Jackson has been nominated to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, whose retirement was leaked ahead of time by White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, as Katie covered in February. Klain is also quite a fan of Judge Jackson, as was highlighted earlier in the week with the committee hearings. 

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