Mitt Romney Applauds Ketanji Brown Jackson's Confirmation as Fellow Republican Senators Walk Out

The Utah lawmaker was one of three conservatives who voted for Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Senator Mitt Romney
Ketanji Brown Jackson (left), Mitt Romney. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney appeared to be the lone Republican to applaud Ketanji Brown Jackson as she made history on Thursday as the first Black woman to be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.

Video of Romney went viral after he was seen standing and applauding Jackson's 53-47 confirmation, even as other Republicans in the chamber could be seen quickly exiting the room.

Romney was one of three GOP senators who voted for Jackson, along with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski.

While Democrats hailed Jackson's lengthy legal career and cited her widespread support among outside groups, most of the Senate Republicans voted against her, in part citing opposition to her record as a defense attorney and sentencing judge.

When she is sworn in this summer, Jackson will replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

In a statement explaining his vote, Romney said, "After reviewing Judge Jackson's record and testimony, I have concluded that she is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor. While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the Court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity."

Romney, 75, has become something of a symbol of bipartisanship in a divided Washington, D.C. A former Republican nominee for president, he sometimes breaks with his party, particularly over issues of tradition and norms and the behavior of former President Donald Trump.

During Trump's 2020 impeachment trial — the first of two Trump faced while in office — Romney was the lone Republican senator who found him guilty of abuse of power in connection with his Ukraine scandal. (Trump has repeatedly attacked and dismissed Romney in turn.)

Romney became the 2021 recipient of the annual Profile in Courage Award for that vote.

Explaining his decision on the Today show at the time, Romney said: "I sleep well because I know that I did what my conscience told me was the right thing to do."

More recently, he's crossed the political aisle to try and broker a deal on COVID-19 funding and to discuss ways to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, a 19th-century law that outlines how Congress counts the votes from each state that determine who is president.

Romney's support of Jackson was a surprise insofar as he had voted against her for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, though she was ultimately confirmed.

His tone shifted after meeting with Jackson in person last week, he said.

Joe biden
From left: President Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson celebrate her confirmation to the Supreme Court on Thursday at the White House. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

"Judge Jackson and I had a wide-ranging discussion about her experience and qualifications. Her dedication to public service and her family are obvious, and I enjoyed our meeting," Romney said in a statement following the meeting. "I appreciate the time she spent answering my questions, which was helpful as I continue my review of her record and testimony."

Jackson's Senate confirmation was historic in more ways than one, as it was presided over by Kamala Harris — the first Black woman elected vice president of the U.S.

Related Articles