With 3 GOP Votes, Ketanji Brown Jackson Will Likely Be Supreme Court's First Black Woman Justice

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney all expressed their support for Judge Jackson and voted to move forward in the process to confirm her nomination

Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney
Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty; Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will almost certainly be seated on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following sometimes grueling testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, President Joe Biden's nominee now has the support of three Republicans — all but assuring she will be confirmed when the full Senate weighs in during a vote expected this week.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah have all expressed their intention to vote in favor of making Judge Jackson, 51, the country's 116th Supreme Court Justice and the first Black woman to sit on the bench.

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"After multiple in-depth conversations with Judge Jackson and deliberative review of her record and recent hearings, I will support her historic nomination," Murkowski said in a statement Monday. "My support rests on Judge Jackson's qualifications, which no one questions; her demonstrated judicial independence; her demeanor and temperament; and the important perspective she would bring to the court as a replacement for Justice Breyer."

Biden nominated Jackson — fulfilling a campaign promise to select a Black woman — after Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the high court in January.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

"After reviewing Judge Jackson's record and testimony, I have concluded that she is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor," Romney said in his own statement on Monday. "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."

Collins had said March 30 she will vote to confirm Jackson. "After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court," she said in her statement. "I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position."

Collins, Murkowski and Romney all have reputations, in various ways, as more moderate members of their party, especially when it regards certain norms like reviewing and voting on Supreme Court nominees.

Those three senators' 11 Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee were less enthusiastic about Jackson's nomination — despite her bipartisan confirmation by the Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit less than a year ago.

In a vote Monday, the committee was split 11-11 with all Republicans voting against sending the nomination to the full senate, which voted 53-47 Monday evening to discharge the nomination from the committee and move forward with the process.

All 50 Democrats — as well as Collins, Murkowski and Romney — voted in favor.

The last time the committee was deadlocked on a Supreme Court nominee was for Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Joe Biden
From left: Joe Biden, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Drew Angerer/Getty

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those in opposition, previously arguing that Jackson "declined to address critically important questions and ameliorate real concerns." Jackson, he said in a speech last month, "was the court-packers' pick. And she testified like it."

With the slimmest majority possible in the Senate, Democrats would have been able to confirm Jackson without any Republicans as long as all 50 members of their caucus were present and vote in favor with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — a scenario that is unprecedented in seating a Supreme Court justice.

In an interview with PEOPLE, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said her fellow Democrats and Jackson still hoped for bipartisan support.

"You always want to get as many votes as you can," she told PEOPLE amid the confirmation hearings. "I know she's not going to at all back down from trying to answer questions. She's never been resting on her laurels, and we aren't either."

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