“In my meetings with Judge Jackson, we discussed in depth several issues that were raised in her hearing,” Collins said. “Sometimes I agreed with her; sometimes I did not. And just as I have disagreed with some of her decisions to date, I have no doubt that, if Judge Jackson is confirmed, I will not agree with every vote that she casts as a Justice. That alone, however, is not disqualifying.”
Collins said she was concerned about the increasingly partisan nature of Supreme Court confirmation hearings and that “the process is broken.” In an interview with the New York Times, Collins said a second meeting with Jackson on Tuesday had reassured her Jackson would not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference.”
“In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee,” Collins said Wednesday. “It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want.”
President Biden called Collins personally to thank her for her decision to support Jackson, said a person familiar with the conversation. The president had telephoned Collins at least three times before since the vacancy opened, underscoring the influential role that the Republican senator would have in the confirmation fight.
Even without any Republican votes, Jackson’s confirmation remains on track for early April, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) said last week — particularly after Sen. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), a centrist whose vote is critical in the 50-50 Senate, announced that he intended to vote to confirm Jackson.
With all 50 Democrats and independents expected to support Jackson, virtually assuring her confirmation, most of the remaining suspense surrounds how many Republican votes she will pick up. Democrats have expressed hope that Jackson would receive at least some bipartisan support, saying it would be important for the Supreme Court’s integrity for Republicans to back someone with Jackson’s qualifications.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain expressed gratitude Wednesday to Collins “for giving fair, thoughtful consideration to Judge Jackson — and all of the [president’s] judicial appointments,” he tweeted.
Three GOP senators—Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (SC) — voted last year in favor of Jackson’s nomination to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Murkowski and Graham have yet to announce their final decision this time around, although Graham is widely expected to vote against her for the Supreme Court after questioning Jackson aggressively at last week’s hearing.
Another possible Republican vote is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who opposed Jackson for the circuit court but has said for weeks he is keeping an open mind when it comes to his elevation to the Supreme Court. Romney also met with Jackson on Tuesday and said afterward that they “had a wide-ranging discussion about her experience and qualifications.” However, he told reporters he probably would not announce his decision until the day of Jackson’s confirmation vote.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday formally scheduled a vote on Jackson’s nomination for April 4, triggering a timeline that would put the judge on track to be confirmed as the court’s 116th justice by the end of next week.
As the committee met to consider Jackson’s nomination, Republican senators requested a one-week delay on a vote, which has become a standard parliamentary tactic. That will launch a series of procedural votes on the Senate floor next week culminating in a confirmation vote on Thursday or Friday, as long as enough Democratic senators are healthy and present.