Supreme Court Confirmation for Jackson Will Be Less Partisan: Rob Portman

Republican Senator Rob Portman predicted that the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden's pick for the Supreme Court, will be less partisan than others in recent history.

President Joe Biden announced Friday that he would nominate Judge Jackson, who currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, for the role. If confirmed, she would make history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.

Supreme Court confirmations have become increasingly partisan in recent years. Senators used to cross party lines more frequently on judicial nominees, however, the Trump era saw these hearings become more polarized, with senators mostly voting along the party line.

Portman, a moderate Republican from Ohio who is retiring at the end of this year, said he believes this trend will reverse on NBC News' Meet the Press Sunday morning. He said he would also consider voting in favor of her confirmation and would "look at her record and look at her qualifications."

"In this case, I don't think it will be as partisan as we've seen in the past, as an example with Judge Kavanaugh when he was nominated," he said. "As you know, she'll be replacing another liberal on the vote."

He said Republicans are looking for a Supreme Court justice who won't "legislate on the bench."

Some Republicans have also said that they may support Judge Jackson. Utah Senator Mitt Romney said he will "take a very deep dive and have the occasion to speak with" her during a CNN appearance on Sunday, noting the "historic" nature of her nomination.

"I'll provide fresh eyes to that evaluation and hope that I'll be able to support her in the final analysis," he said.

Judge Jackson also received praise from GOP Maine Senator Susan Collins, who called her "an experienced federal judge with impressive academic and legal credentials." Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski also said she would "thoroughly vet this nominee, and give her the level of consideration that a Supreme Court Justice demands."

Supreme Court hearing less partisan: Portman
GOP Senator Rob Portman, above on February 1, predicted the Supreme Court confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would be less partisan. Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Still, other Republicans have taken a more critical tone. Senator Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, remarked that Judge Jackson's nomination was "inappropriate" due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said her nomination "means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again."

Because Democrats hold 50 Senate seats, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote, they will not need to win over any Republican support for Judge Jackson's confirmation.

Recent Supreme Court picks by former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama have received little bipartisan support. Three Democrats—Senators Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp—backed Justice Neil Gorsuch, while Justice Brett Kavanaugh only received support from Manchin. No Democrat voted for Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Collins, however, crossed party lines to vote against her.

Justice Elena Kagan, nominated by Obama, received the support of only five Republicans. Meanwhile, Justice Sonya Sotomayor received the support of nine of the 40 GOP senators at the time.