Judiciary panel deadlocks on Jackson SCOTUS nomination, setting up Senate vote to move it out of committee

Senate Judiciary Cmte meets to consider Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee Monday deadlocked 11-11 on Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, setting up a Senate floor vote that’s likely to reveal just how much GOP support she will really get.

The party-line 11-11 tie in committee means Jackson won’t get a favorable recommendation for her nomination to go to the floor. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., can call a floor vote, likely later Monday, on a motion to “discharge” Jackson from the Judiciary Committee.

This means the chamber would be able to advance through the cloture process throughout the week, setting up a likely Thursday or Friday final confirmation vote barring anything unforeseen.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, departs a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photographer: Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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It also means Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who haven’t yet announced whether they will vote for Jackson, will be forced on the record in short order. Their support would be a major win for the White House, which is seeking bipartisan backing for Jackson.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is the only Republican to announce she will vote for Jackson so far. Representatives for Romney and Murkowski did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital Monday morning. 

The committee vote was delayed for several hours because the flight carrying Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., returned to the airport due to a passenger medical emergency. 

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a news conference on Oct. 15, 2020, near Neffs Canyon, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Committees are split evenly in the 50-50 Senate, meaning matters that don’t get bipartisan support can’t go straight to the floor. But the power-sharing agreement between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., allows for a simple-majority vote on a discharge motion when committees are deadlocked. This prevents the minority from being able to create complete gridlock by simply voting against matters in committee.

Schumer will move to discharge the consideration of the Jackson nomination, which will lead to up to four hours of debate, evenly divided between the majority and minority. If a simple majority agrees to discharge Jackson’s nomination – which is expected – then it will be placed on the Senate’s “executive calendar” where it can be taken up the next calendar day, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asks questions during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on September 30, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., were initially considered to be potentially in play as GOP votes for a Biden Supreme Court nominee on the Judiciary Committee. But they each in recent days announced they will oppose her. 

Tillis said he was not satisfied with Jackson’s judicial philosophy or her refusal to oppose court-packing. Graham cited Jackson’s history of allegedly light sentences for child pornography offenders and her “lack of a steady judicial philosophy.” Both men, however, said they found her to be of strong character and respected within the legal community. 

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Monday became the latest Democrat to officially back Jackson. All Democrats are expected to support the nominee, although the nomination will likely be a major political issue for Democrats who are up for reelection, like Kelly. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report. 

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