Once Susan Collins and Joe Manchin announced support for Ketanji Brown Jackson’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination, her confirmation was all but assured. But as a preliminary procedural vote in the Senate (following the expected party-line 11-11 vote in the Judiciary Committee) approached, Jackson secured two more Republican votes, giving her confirmation a cushion as well as some significant bipartisan street cred.
The first additional GOP vote was only a mild surprise: Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski. She voted against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018 and has already been excommunicated by the Central Committee of the Alaska GOP, which censured her and endorsed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka, following the lead of Donald Trump, who is of course furious at her for voting to remove him from office after his second impeachment. Her path to a fourth full term in the Senate this November does not depend on a majority of Republican support; under the new election system approved by Alaska voters in 2020, Murkowski should easily survive a nonpartisan top-four primary and will be favored in a general election featuring ranked-choice voting.
The third Republican to back Jackson was more of a surprise: Utah senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who voted against Jackson’s nomination for the D.C. Court of Appeals last year. His statement on the SCOTUS nomination acknowledged that he would not likely “agree with every decision she may make on the Court” but said she clearly crossed his threshold for being fully qualified. This gesture adds to the distance Romney has traveled from the MAGA center of gravity of the party he led just a decade ago. But it’s a welcome accretion of hard-earned support for the future justice. Her final confirmation by the Senate will arrive later this week.