Susan Collins, Key GOP Vote in Senate, Praises Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson After Meeting

The Maine Republican met with President Joe Biden’s historic pick on Tuesday — but won’t make a final decision until after upcoming Senate hearings

Susan Collins, Ketanji Brown Jackson
Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Sen. Susan Collins praised Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson after a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday that the Maine Republican said "went well" as the two had a "lengthy and very productive conversation," CNN reports.

Collins, who is considered one of Democrats' best hopes for GOP support when the divided Senate votes on the confirmation of President Joe Biden's historic nominee, said it's "clear that her credentials and the breadth of her experience are impressive" after she and Jackson met at the U.S. Capitol.

Jackson, who will be the first Black woman to sit on the high court if confirmed, "explained in great depth the methodology that she uses as she approaches the cases that come before her," Collins said.

"Obviously I don't agree with her on every decision she has rendered, and we discussed the decision where she was overturned by the circuit court, and she explained her reasoning in more depth," she continued, according to CNN. "But I felt that what I did get from her is that she takes a very thorough, careful approach in applying the law to the facts of the case, and that is what I want to see in a judge."

Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Collins and two other Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, voted to confirm Jackson to the court last year.

Susan Collins, Ketanji Brown Jackson
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty

On Tuesday, though, Collins said she won't make a final decision until after the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its hearings, which are scheduled to begin March 21, the Associated Press reports.

Though Collins voted against Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Donald Trump nominee, because of the fast-tracked confirmation process right before the 2020 presidential election, she said she was not concerned about committee Chair Dick Durbin, Biden and the Democrats modeling that timeline for Jackson. (Democrats, citing similar confirmation timelines in the past and perhaps mindful of the upcoming midterm elections, have said they will move quickly to confirm Jackson.)

"It's important to recognize that she has been confirmed three times now, so this is not a candidate who is a blank slate to us," said Collins, referring to her previous experience.

"To spend more than an hour and a half one-on-one with a judicial nominee gives you quite a bit of information," she also said, CNN reports. "I have confidence in Chairman Durbin to do a thorough and fair set of hearings."

President Biden chose Jackson to fill a seat left open by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Before making his selection, Biden said it would not be based on ideology and predicted his nominee would get a Republican vote.

GOP support would likely have to come from someone like Collins or Alaska's Murkowski, two of the most moderate voices among their party's senators and both of whom voted to previously confirm Jackson.

Murkowski, like Collins, is publicly staying mum.

"You have nine people who sit on the highest court in the land, who are there for life, and it requires a level of review and scrutiny that is in line with the position," Murkowski told CNN this week. "So yeah, this is a different game."

According to the AP, Collins' office said she's received three phone calls from the president to discuss the nomination.

With the slimmest majority possible in the Senate, Democrats could confirm Jackson without any Republicans as long as all 50 are present and vote in favor with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — a scenario that is unprecedented in seating a Supreme Court justice.

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