What happens if the Judiciary Committee has an equal vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as early as next week, once her nomination has been put forward by the Judiciary Committee.

The committee is due to vote on Monday and a stalemate is widely expected, with Democrats voting in favor of Jackson’s nomination and Republicans voting against. Despite that tie, Democrats have the tools to bring his nomination to the ground and aim to do so before lawmakers leave for their next recess on April 8.

If confirmed, Jackson would become the first black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. With moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on board, as well as the support of at least one Republican senator, Jackson is on track to secure the simple majority she needs to move forward. .

Here’s what comes next.

Where does Jackson’s nomination go from here?

Jackson’s nomination comes ahead of a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled for Monday.

The committee vote will likely end in a tie, since all 11 Democrats on the committee are willing to back Jackson, when none of the 11 Republicans are expected to. Although a tie would result in a slight delay, it will not prevent his nomination from moving forward.

“A tie vote doesn’t stop us,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said last Wednesday. “It slows us to the ground for a few hours, but it doesn’t stop us.”

The committee’s response to a possible tie could also signal how much lawmakers want to preserve Senate standards. Historically, the Judiciary Committee has allowed Supreme Court nominees, including Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, to speak even if they do not win majority support on the committee.

If Republicans refuse to do the same with Jackson, Democrats have the option of voting to release his nomination. This would require presenting what is called a “discharge petition”, holding four hours of debate and having the entire Senate vote on it. With 51 votes, this petition could pass.

Going this route, however, would indicate that the days of honoring past practices regarding Supreme Court nominees are likely over.

Democrats hope to hold a floor vote on Jackson soon after the committee meeting, with the goal of having it confirmed before the Senate leaves for its Easter recess.

Because Supreme Court nominees only need a simple majority (or 51 votes) to be confirmed, the 50-member Democratic caucus will be able to push Jackson forward on their own, with a deciding vote from the vice president. Kamala Harris.

Until then, however, Democrats are continuing to woo Republican senators in an attempt to make the vote on Jackson’s nomination more bipartisan.

Republicans have limited means to stop the nomination

Republicans have limited tools to prevent the nomination from moving forward.

One idea several Republicans have already rejected is a boycott of the Judiciary Committee vote. According to the rules of the committee, two members of the minority party must be present to establish the quorum necessary for a vote to take place. If no member of the minority is present, the vote cannot theoretically advance. In addition, the majority of the committee must be present to report a Senate appointment.

If the Republicans boycotted, the committee would not have the majority it needs to send the nomination to the prosecution.

Ultimately, however, Democrats have a way of overcoming such maneuvers. In the event of a boycott, Democrats could still push Jackson’s nomination forward, though it would likely be challenged in the Senate as a violation of the rules. At that point, the Senate could hold a majority vote effectively overriding those rules.

There is also precedent for ignoring the quorum rule. In 2020, then-Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham advanced the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, even though Democrats boycotted the committee’s vote. At the time, however, Republicans had the necessary majority on the Committee to pass the nomination.

So far, several Republicans have indicated they are unlikely to pursue a boycott.

“I didn’t have a conversation [on a boycott] with any Republican,” Senate Judiciary member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Punchbowl on Wednesday. “If you think about it, people will talk to me. So we don’t think about it.

Republicans have also asked for more documents to verify Jackson’s nomination, including pre-conviction reports in the child pornography cases Jackson supervised. Throughout the hearings, Republicans argued that Jackson was being too soft on child porn cases, an argument that has been widely denied.

On Wednesday, committee Republicans pushed Democrats to release the confidential pre-sentence reports in those cases. These include sensitive victim information as well as notes from an offender’s probation officer. Democrats have already rejected that request and said they have provided Republicans with enough information about these cases.

“The idea of ​​making these pre-conviction reports available to this political environment, and potentially available for public consumption, would be reprehensible and dangerous,” Durbin said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Sarah Binder, a George Washington University professor and congressional procedural expert, notes that there are few ways Republicans can slow down or block the nomination, including requesting documents.

“In a 50-50 senate, the majority can stick together and manage the process in the interest of the majority,” she told Vox.

Democrats hope it will be a bipartisan vote

Democrats hope they can convince more Republicans to support his nomination, even if they don’t need to.

Previously, three Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – voted to support Jackson’s nomination to the DC Circuit Court. Collins has previously said she plans to do it again, while Graham announced he won’t.

“My decision is based on her record of judicial activism, her flawed sentencing methodology regarding child pornography cases, and the belief that Judge Jackson will not be deterred by the ordinary meaning of the law when it comes to of a liberal cause,” Graham said in a Thursday. speech floor. Murkowski has yet to announce his decision so far.

Other Republicans Democrats are trying to win over include more moderate members like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and incumbents like the Senses. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Given the limited Republican support Jackson received last year, she’s unlikely to get more than a handful of GOP votes this time around.

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