Jackson nomination advances after Senate committee deadlocks

By Mike Hayes, Tierney Sneed, Ji Min Lee, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 10:35 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022
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5:34 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Senate Judiciary committee votes on party lines — 11-11 — on Jackson's nomination

From CNN's Alex Rogers, Lauren Fox and Morgan Rimmer 

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Senate Judiciary Committee reconvened and voted on whether to move forward with President Biden's Supreme Court justice pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The committee voted along party lines, 11-11, on the nomination of Jackson, the first step in a series Democrats will take to confirm her by the end of the week.

What will happen next: After the committee vote, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will move to discharge the nomination of Judge Jackson and send it to the Senate floor.

The discharge vote on the floor could happen around 5:30-6:30 p.m. ET, according to GOP Sen. John Thune’s office.

It takes 51 votes to discharge the deadlocked nomination. We will get a sense then how Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney plan to vote on Jackson.

Senate Republican and Democratic leaders agree that Jackson is a well-qualified nominee, but almost all GOP senators are expected to oppose her.

Jackson, 51, sits on DC's federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. Jackson previously worked as a clerk for Breyer, a federal public defender, an attorney in private practice, a federal district court judge and a member of the US Sentencing Commission.

If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to be a Supreme Court justice. 

CNN's Manu Raju contributed reporting to this post.

1:43 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

The vote on Jackson is expected to be tight. Here’s how it would stack up against previous confirmations

From CNN's Sam Woodward

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the full chamber is expected to be a 11-11 split along party lines. Despite the deadlock, there are still ways that Senate Democrats can put her nomination forward for a full vote in the coming days. 

So far, only one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, has said she would support Jackson, likely setting up the type of tight vote tally for her confirmation that has become more routine as nomination battles have grown increasingly contentious. 

In the past, nominees have sailed to confirmation without a single Nay vote, as Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia did. Or in the case of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just three Nays. 

Justice Stephen Breyer — whose seat Jackson is nominated to fill -- was confirmed 87-9 in 1994 during the Clinton administration. And in 2005, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, was confirmed with a vote of 78-22 under a Republican-controlled Senate.

For the nine sitting justices, Breyer and Roberts are the only two who were confirmed with a margin of over 50 votes in their favor, receiving strong support from members of both parties. Justice Sonia Sotomayor (68-31) and Justice Elena Kagan (63-37) were both easily confirmed during the Obama administration.

In 2018, Justice Brett Kavanaugh barely scraped by with a vote of 50-48 following his contentious confirmation hearings when he faced accusations of sexual assault by a former classmate. And Justice Clarence Thomas, whose hearings featuring Anita Hill shocked the nation, was confirmed by a 52-48 tally.

Justices Samuel Alito (58-42), Neil Gorsuch (54-45) and Amy Coney Barrett (52-48) were all nominated by a Republican president and confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate.

3:38 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

The top reasons Republicans are citing for not supporting Jackson's confirmation 

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been citing similar reasons Monday for voting against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation. 

Republicans on the panel are expected to be united in their opposition of the nominee when they vote later Monday.

Here's a look at some of the points Republicans have been raising in their remarks:

Lack of judicial philosophy: Jackson’s refusal to align herself with any specific judicial philosophy – like the originalist or textualism – has been cited by several Republicans.  

“We don't expect a nominee to say that they will agree with a specific justice 100% of the time, but it's not asking too much that a nominee be able to explain the justice’s approach to the law and where they might differ,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, said. 

Democrats have countered that some GOP appointees for the high court, like Chief Justice John Roberts, also did not identify themselves as following a particular judicial philosophy. 

Supposedly soft on crime: Republicans on Monday attacked Jackson for being “lenient” towards criminal offenders in her sentencing, with some committee members continuing their focus on her record on child pornography cases. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, for instance touted charts that he said showed that her average sentence in certain categories of these cases was below the national average, while Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, discussed the “policy disagreements” Jackson has shown with what the sentencing guidelines instruct doing in those cases.

Democrats pushed back on those complaints by arguing that Republicans have supported GOP appointed judges who exhibited similar sentencing tendencies towards those types of defendants. They also touted the endorsements Jackson has received from a variety of law enforcement and victims’ rights groups.   

"To say she's an extremist on crime belies the fact that she has law enforcement group after law enforcement group supporting her,” Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, said. 

A Trump era immigration ruling: As Republicans labeled Jackson a “radical” and an “activist” judge, they’ve zeroed in one decision in particular she issued as a district court judge, when she ruled against a Trump-era immigration policy that expanded the categories of noncitizens that may be subjected to expedited deportation procedures. Her decision was overturned on appeal. 

"The Make the Road case demonstrated her willingness to put left wing policy above the law,” Cruz said, referring the the immigration case. 

2:14 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

The Senate Judiciary Committee is in a recess and will reconvene later today to vote on Jackson, chair says 

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Morgan Rimmer 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now in recess and is expected to return later today to vote on whether to advance the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, just confirmed publicly as members were wrapping up their remarks on Judge Jackson that Sen. Alex Padilla will be delayed.

The chairman says the committee will reconvene when Padilla lands later this afternoon. 

“I believe that Senator Padilla will be back in time this afternoon for us to consider this nomination and a record vote and the 6 other nominees who are pending before the committee,” Durbin told the committee, adding, “I know it troubles him, it pains him not to be here.”

He said that Padilla and his entire family were taking the red eye last night when there was a medical emergency onboard and they were diverted back to Los Angeles.

He said there was a time when senators would often engage in paired voting to cover a delay like this, but he said he understands that this is an important vote for everyone. 

“There was a time when pairing for a vote was common; where someone, two senators with opposite positions on a vote would agree that neither one of them was gonna vote, so that the outcome would not be affected,” Durbin said.

He added, “We’re in a different position because this is not a run of the mill ordinary vote, this is an important one that everyone here has thought through very seriously, and we should take very seriously.” 

More on today's vote: The committee is made up of 11 members of each party, and every Republican on the committee is expected to vote against advancing Jackson’s nomination. However, Senate Democrats are still expected to put her nomination to a full confirmation vote on the floor in the coming days. 

1:44 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Blackburn and Durbin spar over criticism that Republicans asked "vile" and "baseless" questions during hearing

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, criticized Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin, who she said "repeatedly dressed down" Republicans for asking "tough questions" during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings.

Blackburn said that Durbin called some of the questions by Republicans "vile" and "baseless" despite the fact that she believed they were raising "legitimate concerns" about child pornography sentences handed down by Jackson. Blackburn added that Republicans on the committee made reasonable requests for documents from these cases that were not turned over.

Blackburn said these "questions are not attacks" and it would be a "dereliction of duty not to ask tough questions."

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

After she was finished, Durbin responded, stating that it was his opinion that the majority of questions for Jackson from Republicans were fair and respectful. He noted that he "never named a name" when he criticized the GOP questions.

Durbin then reiterated his point that he thinks some of the Republican questions went "too far" and "don't reflect the reality of who [Judge Jackson] is or what she's accomplished."

On the question of turning over documents to the committee, Durbin said that some of these documents, specifically presentencing reports from some of Judge Jackson's cases, are records that the Senate Judiciary Committee has never requested. He said that some of the records are "confidential in nature" and added when he spoke to several Republicans about the matter, they agreed it wasn't appropriate to disclose those reports.

1:19 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

A senator's delayed return to DC could affect judiciary committee vote timing on Jackson

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House after a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on February 10, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House after a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on February 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A spokesperson for Sen. Alex Padilla, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the California Democrat is delayed in returning to Washington, DC, today “due to a passenger medical emergency” on his flight from LAX. However, he is expected to arrive later this afternoon. 

A spokesperson for the committee told CNN that Padilla cannot vote by proxy if he plans to vote 'yes' to advance Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination out of the committee. The spokesperson said that according to the Senate Parliamentarian’s reading of the rules, only negative proxies would count.

The committee spokesperson said the committee will not hold the final vote until Padilla returns.

Some more context: The committee is made up of 11 members of each party, and every Republican on the committee is expected to vote against advancing Jackson’s nomination. However, Senate Democrats are still expected to put her nomination to a full confirmation vote on the floor in the coming days. 

Padilla’s delayed arrival is not expected to affect the committee’s timeline by more than a few hours.

1:21 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Booker compares repeated GOP complaints about past judicial fights to "Seinfeld" holiday Festivus

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

After several Republicans brought up the way Democrats approached past GOP-supported judges – like retired Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown and Justice Brett Kavanaugh – Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, kicked off his statement with a "Seinfeld" allusion. 

“I often think maybe we should be holding this hearing during December. Because Mr. Chairman, I don't know you know about the vaunted holiday of Festivus which is the holiday for the rest of us during the holidays,” Booker said, referring to a holiday celebrated by the characters of the 1990s sitcom.  

“And one of the aspects of Festivus is the airing of grievances and I think that we've had probably the best Festivus celebration here in this hearing over the last week or so because there's been a lot of airing grievances,” Booker said. 

12:47 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Supreme Court rules on malicious prosecution claims

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

As the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination continues, across the street, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that a New York man could go forward with a malicious prosecution claim against police even though he wasn't ultimately acquitted for the underlying charge, lowering the bar for when such civil lawsuits for damages can be brought under certain circumstances.

"A plaintiff need only show that his prosecution ended without a conviction," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the 6-3 majority made up of three conservatives and three liberals, noting that in the case at hand charges were ultimately dismissed.

Read more below:

12:18 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Sen. Klobuchar says Judge Jackson is "truly an inspiration to young Black girls"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said that if confirmed, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will "walk into that court with her head held high" because she is "opening up that court to make every little girl and boy in America to realize that anything and everything is possible."

Klobuchar said that Jackson "is truly an inspiration to young Black girls" like an 11-year-old from DC whose dad stopped Klobuchar on a walk one day and presented her with his daughter's letter written to President Joe Biden on why he should consider her as his SCOTUS nominee.

"I was on a walk and her dad, I did not know him, jumped out of a car because he saw me walking, to bring a letter to me that she had written the President of the United States ... She asked President Biden that she be considered when he was looking for justices," Klobuchar said. 

Klobuchar added that the young girl noted in her letter "that with her age she could remain on the court for at least 80 years."

"Her argument was that she wanted to be the voice for children. And she said, 'I live a few blocks from the Supreme Court so it will be easy for me to get there,'" Klobuchar said.  

The senator said that after Judge Jackson was nominated, the 11-year-old said, "If I'm going to be snubbed, it couldn't be for a better candidate."