LOCAL NEWS

Analysis: Romney, 2 other GOP senators buck party to back Biden court pick

Apr 5, 2022, 5:57 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:36 pm
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, left, and Mitt Romney of Utah, who say they will vote...
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, left, and Mitt Romney of Utah, who say they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination to the Supreme Court, smile as they greet each other outside the chamber, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Murkowski and Romney join Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is also bucking the GOP leadership in giving President Joe Biden's nominee a new burst of bipartisan support to become the first Black woman on the high court. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — By announcing they will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, three Republican senators are marking the historical moment by building legacies of their own.

Every senator has a voice, and some choose to use theirs. The three Republican senators — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney — have broken with their party at critical junctures, despite the political risks of standing alone.

The three said separately that they don’t expect to agree with all of Jackson’s rulings from the bench. President Joe Biden’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer will likely join the liberal wing of the high court, and is not expected to tilt its 6-3 balance toward conservatives. But the senators also indicated the Harvard-educated judge is more than just likable, well-qualified and possessing the judicial temperament to do the job. They said she is deserving of confirmation.

As the other Republican senators line up to oppose Jackson, the support from the three outliers gives Biden the bipartisan backing he was seeking for the historic choice, but may do little to shield them from the blowback of party leaders and activists back home.

The votes from Collins, Murkowski and Romney also serve as a rejection of the soft-on-crime attacks leveled at Jackson, some tapping into dangerous conspiracy theories, reminiscent of racist arguments senators made against the first Black nominee to the court, Thurgood Marshall, a half century ago.

Voting for the “historic nomination,” Murkowski said it was not only worth the political risk, but a rejection of a Senate process that “is growing worse and more detached from reality.”

It’s a measure of the nation’s polarizing times that what could be seen as a milestone for the country — the first time in the court’s 233-year history it won’t be made up of mostly white men — has devolved into another bitter, grievance-laden, political brawl.

Jackson’s nomination is advancing through procedural hurdles, including another vote Tuesday, and is on a glide path to confirmation in the Senate by week’s end.

While Democrats hold a narrow majority in the 50-50 chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break a tie, her vote is unlikely to be needed.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “We are to the point where it’s almost automatic, if it is a president who is not of my party puts forth a nominee, I am somehow obligated to just barely even give consideration?… This is an awful process. It’s just awful.” <a href=”https://t.co/5houJF4Evy”>https://t.co/5houJF4Evy</a></p>&mdash; Zach C. Cohen (@Zachary_Cohen) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Zachary_Cohen/status/1511162467640094727?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 5, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

“The confirmation of the nation’s first Black woman to the highest court in the land will resonate for the rest of our nation’s history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday as he launched the weeklong procedural steps toward confirmation.

It wasn’t always guaranteed that Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate to be a federal appellate judge just a year ago, would win over Republicans this time.

One key Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who voted to confirm her for the lower court, led the opposition during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on her nomination.

Along with other Republicans, Graham saw political value in using Jackson’s hearing to dredge up complaints about the partisan treatment of previous Supreme Court nominees during the Donald Trump era — from Brett Kavanaugh, who faced accusations of sexual assault from his high school years that he strenuously denied during his 2018 confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, to Amy Coney Barrett’s fervent Catholic faith.

“If we were in charge, she would not have been before this committee,” Graham said about the Republican side ahead of the panel’s deadlocked vote Monday. “You would have had somebody more moderate than this.”

But personal political legacies can be as strong a draw for senators, who like to think of themselves as one of the 100 distinct voices in the Senate, despite the pressure party officials and others bring to bear on a vote.

Collins, Murkowski and Romney have all proven over long careers in Republican Party politics that they can be independent brokers.

They have shaped brands at home and beyond, occasionally displaying a centrist streak but also being willing to work pragmatically across the aisle with Democrats rather than reflexive opposition.

Collins, who won re-election in 2020, has long gone her own way to vote for a president’s judicial nominees, regardless of the party of the president in the White House. A notable exception was Barrett, whose confirmation in October 2020 she said she could not support so close to the presidential election.

Collins expressed hope that the Senate could get back to a place where there is bipartisan support for qualified Supreme Court nominees “because it’s important for public confidence in the court. The court is not supposed to be a politicized institution.”

Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee and the only Republican senator to vote to convict Donald Trump during both trials of the former president, has emerged as a new force in the Senate, helping to broker bipartisan deals on issues like infrastructure and COVID-19 aid. He declined to back Jackson just a year ago for the lower court, but once he had a chance to meet and review her record he said she “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity.” He would run for re-election in 2024.

Murkowski faces perhaps the most precarious political climate because she is up for re-election this year in Alaska where Republican Party leaders have censured her over voting to convict Trump in impeachment over the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, among her other stances.

Alaska party leaders have endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-backed candidate, ahead of the August primary. In the state’s new election system, the top four primary vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election where voters will rank their choices.

Yet, if anyone knows how to use political independence as a political currency, it’s Murkowski who in 2010 won a write-in campaign — voters had to write in M-u-r-k-o-w-s-k-i for Senate — after she lost the primary bid and party backing to a more conservative challenger.

Murkowski shrugged off the political attacks that could come from her decision to back Jackson as worth the risk.
“Is there any safe place in this polarized time?” she said.
___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Farnoush Amiri, videojournalist Rick Gentilo, and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, contributed to this report.
__
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lisa Mascaro, the AP’s chief congressional correspondent, has covered Capitol Hill since 2010. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/LisaMascaro

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Man accused of exposing himself at Utah store...
Shara Park

Man accused of exposing himself to underage girls at Utah store

The owner of Rad Swim in Highland is warning Utah families after she says a man exposed himself to her associate and several young girls in her store Monday evening.
23 hours ago
High school teammates play in Super Bowl...
Ayanna Likens

2 former Stansbury High School teammates to faceoff in the Super Bowl

Two former Stansbury High School football teammates will face each other as rivals in the Super Bowl.
23 hours ago
HOV lanes for pregnant women...
Katija Stjepovic

House passes bill allowing pregnant women to drive solo in HOV lanes

Pregnant women may soon be allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes after a bill allowing just that passed in the Utah House of Representatives Friday.
23 hours ago
(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon & Eliza Pace

KSL+: Healing in schools after Enoch tragic shooting

In the weeks following the tragic shooting in Enoch that killed five children, the school community continues to feel the impact.
23 hours ago
FILE (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)...
Madison Swenson

Two Utah county men, business charged with $11M COVID tax fraud scheme

Two Utah County men, as well as an accounting business in Provo, have been charged with a COVID-related tax fraud scheme totaling more than $11 million.
23 hours ago
Elk herd near Parleys Canyon...
Jed Boal

3 elk die after herd wanders onto roads near Parleys Canyon

A large herd of elk continues to keep motorists and state troopers on high alert near the mouth of Parleys Canyon.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Analysis: Romney, 2 other GOP senators buck party to back Biden court pick