By David Morgan and Moira Warburton
Hearings on federal appellate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee, who would become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, will begin on March 21, a first step before she can be voted on by the full chamber.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin revealed the timeline hours after Jackson arrived on Capitol Hill to visit Senate leaders of both parties, as lawmakers mulled her candidacy for the lifetime post.
Hearings will run until March 24 and include testimony from the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses, Durbin’s statement said, as well as a standard closed session where the committee will discuss any matters relating to Jackson’s FBI background check.
“I look forward to Judge Jackson’s appearance before the Committee and to respectful and dignified hearings,” Durbin said in a public letter to his Senate colleagues.
Jackson, 51, who was picked to succeed retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, began the formal task of seeking Senate confirmation during high-profile meetings on Wednesday with the chamber’s top lawmakers.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Jackson for about 40 minutes in an ornate Senate dining room and offered reporters wall-to-wall praise for qualifications and experience that he said should be applauded by Democrats and Republicans alike.
“She deserves support from the other side of the aisle, and I am hopeful that a good number of Republicans will vote for her, given who she is,” the New York Democrat said.
Democrats hope to confirm her before the Easter recess starts on April 11.
If confirmed, Jackson would join the liberal bloc on an increasingly assertive court that has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices appointed by Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.
Jackson has served since last year on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after eight years as a federal district judge in Washington and worked earlier as a Supreme Court clerk for Breyer. She would become the sixth woman to ever serve on the nine-member court that now has three female justices.
But Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who met with her after Schumer, raised questions about Jackson’s short record as an appellate judge, which includes only two opinions so far.
“I am troubled by the combination of this slim appellate record and the intensity of Judge Jackson’s far-left, dark-money fan club,” said McConnell, who has already indicated he’d be inclined to block Biden nominees in 2023 and 2024 if Republicans win a majority in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would be meeting with Jackson on March 10 but did not expect any surprises in her hearings, given that she has appeared before the committee several times already for judicial nominations.
“She’s not new to us,” he told reporters. “Given the fact that she’s not going to change the ideological balance on the court … we all have a pretty good idea what the outcome is likely to be.”