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Manchin Will Vote for Judge Jackson, Making Confirmation Likely

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin announced Friday that he plans to vote in favor of confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Manchin called Jackson’s record “exemplary” and labeled her “supremely qualified” to be a justice.

“After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” Manchin said.

“Her wide array of experiences in varying sectors of our judicial system has provided Judge Jackson a unique perspective that will serve her well on our nation’s highest court,” he said in a statement, offering glowing praise of Jackson as “warm and gracious” and holding “the temperament to make an exceptional jurist.”

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All 50 Senate Democrats must vote in favor of Brown in order for her to be confirmed, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

It seems clear that no Senate Republicans will vote in favor of Brown unless something changes.

Republican Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell has announced his intention to vote no on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“After studying the nominee’s record and watching her performance this week, I cannot and will not support Judge Jackson for a lifetime appointment to our highest Court,” he said in a speech to the Senate. “First, Judge Jackson refuses to reject the fringe position that Democrats should try to pack the Supreme Court. Justices Ginsburg and Breyer had no problem denouncing this unpopular view and defending their institution. I assumed this would be an easy softball for Judge Jackson. But it wasn’t.”

“The nominee suggested there are two legitimate sides to the issue,” the minority leader said. “She testified that she has a view on the matter but would not share it. She inaccurately compared her non-answer to a different, narrower question that a prior nominee was asked. But Judge Jackson seemingly tipped her hand. She said she would be, ‘thrilled to be one of however many.’ The opposite of the Ginsburg and Breyer sentiment. The most radical pro-court-packing fringe groups badly wanted this nominee for this vacancy. Judge Jackson was the court-packers’ pick. And she testified like it.”

He also took issue with her position on illegal immigration and other areas where he found her soft on crime.

“This is one area where Judge Jackson’s trial court records provide a wealth of information. And it is troubling,” he said. “The Judge regularly gave certain terrible kinds of criminals light sentences that were beneath the sentencing guidelines and beneath the prosecutors’ requests. The Judge herself, this week, used the phrase ‘policy disagreement’ to describe this subject. The issue isn’t just the sentences. It’s also the Judge’s rhetoric in trial transcript and the creative ways she bent the law. In one instance, Judge Jackson used COVID as a pretext to essentially rewrite a criminal justice reform law from the bench and make it retroactive, which Congress had declined to do.”

“She did so to cut the sentence of a fentanyl trafficker while Americans died in huge numbers from overdoses,” he said. “Judge Jackson declined to walk Senators through the merits of her reasoning in specific cases. She just kept repeating that it was her discretion, and if Congress didn’t like it, it was our fault for giving her the discretion. That is hardly an explanation as to why she uses her discretion the way she does. It was not reassuring to hear Judge Jackson essentially say that if Senators want her to be tough on crime, we need to change the law, take away her discretion, and force her to do it. That response just seems to confirm that deeply-held personal policy views seep into her jurisprudence. And that is exactly what the record suggests.”

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His decision comes after days of hearings for the nominee in the Senate in which Brown said she could not define what a woman is.

It was a tough question for Ketanji Brown Jackson after she was questioned on the topic by Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

The senator quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said, “Supposed inherent differences are no longer accepted as a ground for race or national origin classifications. Physical differences between men and women, however, are enduring. The two sexes are not fungible. A community made up exclusively of one sex is different from a community composed of both.”

Then the senator asked Brown, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg that there are physical differences between men and women that are enduring?”

“Senator, respectfully, I am not familiar with that particular quote or case, so it’s hard for me to comment as to whether or not,” the Supreme Court nominee said before th senator interrupted her and the conversation began,” Brown said.

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“I’d love to get your opinion on that, and you can submit that. Do you interpret Justice Ginsburg’s meaning of men and women as male and female?

“Again, because I don’t know the case, I do not know how I’d interpret it. I’d need to read the whole thing,” the nominee said.

“Ok. And can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?” Blackburn said.

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“Can I provide a definition?” Brown responded.

“No. I can’t,” the nominee said.

“You can’t?” Blackburn said quizzically.

“Not in this context. I’m not a biologist,” Brown said.

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