North America Truly Bipartisan Supreme Court Confirmations Are Dead

Truly Bipartisan Supreme Court Confirmations Are Dead


Yes, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will get some GOP votes. But don’t expect either party to confirm a nomination from the other when they’re in the majority.

Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be confirmed to the Supreme Court this week. Her confirmation was all but assured Tuesday, when Senator Susan Collins announced her support for Jackson—with perennial Democratic waverer Joe Manchin already on board, even the arguably more mercurial Kyrsten Sinema couldn’t sink Jackson. Collins’s endorsement may not have mattered: A Supreme Court justice confirmed with 50 votes has the same powers as any other justice. But Collins’s endorsement—along with, earlier this week, that of her fellow Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski—also gave Jackson’s pending appointment an added dose of credibility, particularly with the Beltway press, because it ensured a bipartisan confirmation.

In a sense, however, they are the exceptions who prove the new rule of Supreme Court politics: Meaningful bipartisanship is dead, a relic of a vanished era. Sure, a nominee might draw a vote or two from the other party, but when different parties control the White House and the Senate, the new rule will be partisan gridlock and empty court seats. When Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving member of the high court, was confirmed with a 52–48 vote after being credibly accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, such a narrow vote was a rarity; now, it is the norm. (Thomas, for what it’s worth, received 11 Democratic votes.)

You can see it in the statements and actions of Collins, Romney, and Murkowski’s GOP colleagues. They agree that Jackson has the qualifications and experience necessary for the highest court. But they cited a host of increasingly insane justifications in promising to vote against her, from QAnon dog whistles about her being pro-pedophilia to objecting, in Tom Cotton’s case, to the very existence of defense attorneys.

Alex Shephard
+ posts

Latest news

My Lost Country: The fate of Iraqi culture and society

My Lost Country is a moving and poetically evocative film directed by Ishtar Yasin Gutiérrez. A piece of autobiography and...

ICC issues arrest warrant against Putin as part of US-NATO propaganda campaign for regime change

On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and...

Must read

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you