Once again, GOP Senator Susan Collins from Maine just can’t cling to party lines. Collins made it clear this week that she will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the position on the Supreme Court.
Senator Collins had a one-on-one with Judge Brown Jackson Tuesday afternoon. This was the second time the two met privately. After the meeting, the senator from Maine told The New York Times that Judge Jackson had given her information that explained away the concerns she had after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last week.
“I have decided to support the confirmation of Judge Jackson to be a member of the Supreme Court,” Senator Collins told The Times.
This certainly wasn’t the first time Susan Collins went in the opposite direction from most of her GOP colleagues. She opposed the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the fall of 2020. She objected to the Trump nominee saying that her nomination was too close to the next presidential election.
In this case, Collins explained that Judge Jackson had reassured her that she would not make any law coincide with any personal preferences she might have. Collins said that she met the personal standards that she thought were fitting for a Supreme Court Justice.
Collins noted, “In recent years, senators on both sides of the aisle have gotten away from what I perceive to be the appropriate process for evaluating judicial nominees. In my view, the role under the Constitution assigned to the Senate is to look at the credentials, experience and qualifications of the nominee. It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the individual ideology of a senator or would vote exactly as an individual senator would want.”
Since Senator Collins is now likely going to vote for Judge Jackson’s confirmation, Vice President Kamala Harris will not have to cast a vote to break a Senate tie. The Times wrote that needing a vote from a vice president would have been unprecedented and possibly damaging to the court’s standing.
This won’t be the first time that Collins voted in favor of the judge. She was one of three Republicans who voted in favor the Jackson to be confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Collin’s colleagues will see this as a betrayal. Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri made a strong case that Judge Jackson had a dangerous record of giving lenient sentences to criminals who were involved in child pornography.
Jackson, and some of her allies, defended that record by describing how the sentences in question were in line with recommendations from probation officers. But Hawley and some other GOP leaders pointed out that the judge’s sentences were even less stringent than what was being recommended to the judge.
Collins did not respond to requests for comments after talking with The Times, but she did say in that interview that Judge Jackson assured her that she would always stay away from the issue of packing the court. Collins explained that she did not expect that she would agree with any of the justices on every decision. But she wanted the nominees to keep themselves from “prejudgement, partisanship, preference and to be impartial and rule consistent with legal precedent, the language of the law and the Constitution.”
When Senator Collins was pressed about her decision to vote against Judge Barrett in 2020, she said that she was just trying to be fair and consistent. She did not think it was fair and consistent to have a Senate confirmation immediately before an election.
This is the same line of reasoning that her friends across the aisle were giving. That place seems to be where she is most comfortable.