Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois said the confirmation hearings will begin with statements and introductions of Jackson on that Monday followed by two days of senators asking questions on March 22 and 23. On the final day – March 24 – the hearings will conclude with testimony from outside witnesses, including from the American Bar Association.
Once the hearings wrap up, the committee will vote on Jackson’s nomination to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. If she advances out of the panel, the full Senate will consider Jackson and vote on her confirmation to become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Because of a rules change in 2017, Supreme Court nominees only need support from a simple majority.
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“As I have said from the time that Justice Breyer announced his retirement, the Committee will undertake a fair and timely process to consider Judge Jackson’s nomination,” Durbin wrote in a letter to his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I look forward to Judge Jackson’s appearance before the Committee and to respectful and dignified hearings.”
The series of confirmation hearings are set to take place more than three weeks after Biden announced Jackson’s nomination last Friday. Senate Democrats are pushing hard to hold a swift confirmation process and get Jackson installed well before the November elections. Her nomination, however, won’t shift the balance of power of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.
Jackson, who currently serves as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, made her first appearance on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet one-on-one with lawmakers and leadership. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky separately met with Jackson in the morning.
Schumer said he’s still eyeing a confirmation before the Easter recess, which begins on April 11 and lasts for two weeks. That timeline means it could take up to six weeks to go through the entire process, but the Democratic leader wants a full Senate vote almost immediately after the conclusion of the hearings.
“As I’ve said before, we’d like to get this done and have the judge approved by the Senate before the Easter break,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill after his meeting with Jackson.
“She’s an optimistic person. She’s a person who is a candid person,” he added. “But she’s also a person who reaches out and tries to see the other side. It’s very impressive.”
While Democrats technically don’t need any GOP votes to confirm her to the bench, they’re trying to see how much bipartisan support Jackson can garner, especially since she has a track record of winning votes from Republican senators in previous federal judicial nominations.
But so far, none of the Republicans who voted for her confirmation to the D.C. Circuit – Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – will commit to supporting her again. Graham expressed disappointment about the nomination since he was openly pushing for another candidate on the shortlist, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs.
McConnnell has also sounded highly skeptical about Jackson, seeking to tie her to progressive groups that supported her nomination and opposed the potential nomination of Childs.
“I’m troubled by the combination of the slim appellate record and the intensity of Judge Jackson’s far-left dark money fan club,” McConnell said in floor remarks on Tuesday. “One has to wonder why these left-wing organizations worked so very hard to boost Judge Jackson for this potential promotion.”