Susan Collins Criticizes Questioning of Ketanji Brown Jackson by Senators

Maine Senator Susan Collins has announced her support for Supreme Court justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson while also questioning why some of her fellow Republicans do not accept her credentials for the position.

With support from Collins for Jackson, Democrats will have at least one Republican vote in the evenly divided Senate, which likely means Jackson will be confirmed as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.

In a statement obtained by Newsweek, Collins addressed controversial comments made by GOP senators during last week's hearings on Jackson's nomination. While not addressing the senators directly, she condemned their attempts to shift the confirmation process "away from what [is] appropriate for evaluating" a candidate for the Supreme Court.

"In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee," Collins wrote. "It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want."

Throughout her Senate career, which began in the mid-1990s, Collins has voted to confirm both Democratic and Republican presidents' Supreme Court nominees. The only nominee she has ever voted against was Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, according to the Associated Press.

Collins and Jackson
GOP Senator Susan Collins announced her support for Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next Supreme Court justice on Wednesday. Above, Jackson meets with Collins on March 8. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Collins said the system for Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the Senate is broken, citing "several of the last" hearings with Jackson as an example. She also called for senators to put aside their personal politics to confirm a qualified nominee, citing the confirmations of former Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"It used to be common for Senators to give the President, regardless of political party, considerable deference in the choice of a nominee," Collins went on. "It instilled confidence in the independence and the integrity of the judiciary and helped keep the Court above the political fray."

She added, "And this is the approach that I plan to continue to use for Supreme Court nominations because it runs counter to the disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process."

Still, Collins made it clear she does not support all of Jackson's views, saying she does not expect to agree with all of her rulings if she is confirmed. However, the senator said Jackson's experience and qualifications more than make her qualified for the position, citing her "unanimously well qualified" certification by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

"After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person," said Collins, "I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court."

It is unclear whether any other Republicans will also vote to confirm Jackson, although Senator Mitt Romney recently expressed similar sentiments during the confirmation hearings. Romney told CNN that his fellow Republicans appeared to be "preparing for their presidential campaign" rather than giving a fair hearing to Jackson. However, he added that he has not decided on whether to confirm Jackson.

His comment appeared to be directed at four senators that are seen as possible GOP candidates for president in 2024. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley were in the spotlight during Jackson's confirmation hearings.

Cruz and Blackburn repeatedly asked Jackson questions on critical race theory and whether its teaching in schools is part of her "personal hidden agenda." Hawley also accused the federal judge of being "soft" on child sex offenders in her sentencing.

Cotton questioned Jackson on drug sentencing and whether there should be more police or fewer. Last year, he voted against her nomination for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Update 03/30/22, 10:55 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.