Judiciary Committee expected to advance Jackson nomination to Supreme Court

Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff participated in hearings, will vote to confirm

WASHINGTON — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court will take another step forward Monday afternoon when the Senate Judiciary Committee decides whether to move the matter to the full Senate floor.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff will be a part of that discussion as one of 22 members of the committee. That position has not only given him a front-row seat to the entire nomination process but also a speaking role.

During four days of hearings on Jackson’s nomination, Ossoff gave opening remarks and then had two blocks of time to ask her questions: 30 minutes, then 20 minutes.

Ossoff said he felt it was important to use that time to bring up topics that illuminated Jackson’s perspective and approach to the Constitution. He focused on issues such as free speech, search and seizures during criminal investigations, and limitations on executive power.

“With the time I had as a participant, I did my best to elevate the proceedings to their highest public purpose,” Ossoff said.

Jackson, if confirmed, would be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to decide Monday whether to recommend confirming her. Even if the 22-member panel deadlocks because none of its 11 Republicans are willing to support Jackson, Democrats still can use other mechanisms to move the process to the Senate floor.

A final confirmation vote is expected to take place later in the week. So far, only one Republican, Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, has said she will vote with Democrats to confirm Jackson. That could be enough to achieve the majority vote required without the vice president serving as a tie-breaker.

The January 2021 election of Ossoff and Raphael Warnock gave Democrats a 50-vote majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris available to break any ties in their favor.

Ossoff and other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have criticized how some Republicans, particularly Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, treated Jackson during the hearings.

They asked her questions about critical race theory and sentencing choices she made as a trial judge, which touched on today’s partisan culture wars but aren’t directly connected to the work she would do as a Supreme Court justice.

But Republicans have defended the line of questioning, saying Jackson was treated no worse than recent conservative nominees to the high court.

“I would ask them to go back and reflect on their behavior in the prior two Supreme Court confirmation processes and see if that’s not the pot calling the kettle black,” said North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Ossoff said he was dismayed at times when the process of confirming just the 116th person in U.S. history to serve on the Supreme Court got bogged down in bickering.

“There’s a childishness that has taken root in the culture of Congress,” he said. “My constituents, no matter their politics, expect a focus on substance.”