WASHINGTON --Senate Democrats believed Friday they could hold together and confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as President Joe Biden’s choice for Supreme Court.
It was more important to know if Biden and Democrats would win any Republican votes in an important midterm election year when both parties are vying for control of the Senate or House.
Jackson, 51 years old, would be confirmed to replace retired Justice Stephen Breyer. This is at a time when the nation struggles with racial reckoning and systemic inequality as well as police violence.
Biden and the Democrats have basically challenged Republicans to vote against a nominee who is set to make history at the high court.
Moreover, just eight months ago, Jackson was confirmed to a seat at the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit by three Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine. This vote was seen at the time as a precursor for a possible Supreme Court nomination.
The Senate unanimously voted in 2013 to confirm Jackson through a voice vote for a seat on U.S. District Court.
"To make history in the United States, you must have an extraordinary life story," stated Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who will manage Jackson's confirmation hearings as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee is well aware of Judge Jackson's accomplishments, as we have approved her to the D.C. Circuit in less than one year with bipartisan support.
The most likely Republican to support Jackson is Collins, who according to a NBC News analysis has voted for Biden’s judicial picks 87 per cent of the time.
Collins called Jackson "an experienced federal Judge with impressive academic, legal credentials" on Friday and stated that she will meet with Jackson to "conduct an extensive vetting" of Jackson's nomination.
Murkowski, who voted for Biden's judicial picks 81% of the time, is still a wild card. Graham expressed dissatisfaction with Biden’s choice on Friday, though he didn't say that he would vote no. Graham was pushing for J. Michelle Childs (a South Carolina federal judge who Graham considered more moderate than Jackson).
Graham stated in a statement that Jackson's nomination "means that the radical Left has won over President Biden yet again," Graham added. "The Left's attacks on Judge Childs of South Carolina seem to have worked.
The news of Jackson's nomination triggered a frenzy of activity on Capitol Hill and at the White House on Friday morning. Multiple sources say that White House officials briefed Judiciary Committee Democrats about 30 minutes. Louisa Terrell, Legislative Affairs Director, stated that Biden was optimistic that he would still be able to secure GOP votes. She also said that President Obama would continue to reach out personally to Republicans in the coming weeks.
Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, was calling her former Senate colleagues in an effort to boost support for Jackson.
Jackson was the favourite of liberal, who pointed out her experience as a civil rights fighter and public defender. Her selection will no doubt invigorate the Democratic base.
Biden and his White House are also trying to show swing voters that they work across the aisle and govern in Washington in a bipartisan manner ahead of the likely bruising November election. Biden could win another bipartisan victory if Senate Democrats and a few Republicans work together to confirm Jackson. This would be in addition to last year's $1.2 billion package for roads, bridges, and broadband.
Because of the 50-50 Senate, Democrats will need to support every Democrat if GOP support fails to materialize.
The Supreme Court nomination process is never quick -- on average, it takes 72 days from nomination to final Senate votes -- but the White House (and Democrats) are determined to speed things up given their small majority and past confirmations.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) is expected to return to the Senate shortly. He continues his recovery from a stroke. Jackson's confirmation vote could be delayed if another Democrat is struck with a serious illness.
Democrats can take comfort in this fact: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on Judiciary Committee said Friday that he does not plan to create procedural obstacles and drag out the process.
After sexual-assault allegations against Trump, Judiciary Democrats tried multiple tactics to delay Brett Kavanaugh's hearing. And just this month, Republicans boycotted an Banking Committee hearing. This left the nominations for Biden's Federal Reserve picks in limbo.
"Our review will be fair and respectful, as well as comprehensive and complete. Grassley stated in a statement that this is what the process requires and what the American people want.
"As a ranking member, I do not intend to degrade the consent and advice role that Senate Democrats have played in recent confirmations. I will show up and do what Iowans have paid me to do.
In the coming days, Grassley and Durbin will collaborate to create a questionnaire for Jackson. This will be reviewed by members of the committee. Before her confirmation hearing, she will begin meeting with senators one-on-one.
The majority of Republicans seem to have made their decision. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed out his vote against Jackson last Year and called her "favored choice by far-left dark money groups that have spent many years attacking the Court's legitimacy and structure."
Senator Marsha Blackburn (Republican from Tennessee), who sits on the Judiciary Panel, criticized Biden's announcement of his pick during the Russian invasion in Ukraine. She called it "extremely inappropriate."
Blackburn stated that Biden has once again put the needs of the radical left above what is best for the nation. She also said she plans to continue meeting with the judge. "We cannot blindly accept a justice as a rubber stamp for a radical progressive agenda.
Jackson received an endorsement at least from one major name in GOP politics: Former House speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is a relative of Jackson and was the vice presidential running mate of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah in 2012.
Ryan said that Ryan and his wife were extremely happy for Ketanji, her family and all of them. Ryan introduced Jackson to a Senate hearing in 2012, when she was first appointed to the federal bench. While our politics may be different, my praises for Ketanji's intelligence, her character and her integrity are unambiguous."
Jackson was the daughter of Miami public school administrators and teachers. She went to Harvard and clerked for Breyer at The Supreme Court. Jackson rose steadily through the federal courts and inspired many.
"I never imagined that I would see a Black woman elected to the Supreme Court. And certainly not someone I know." She is so qualified, and so ready to run the race," Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a former principal of public schools and member of school boards who has been in touch with Jackson's family for many decades, told NBC News.
"This historic moment in history has been long overdue. Black women are the ones who carry the nation and bear so much of the responsibility for our community. Wilson said that they work hard, show up early and stay late even when it is time to leave," Wilson continued. "I am thrilled that President Biden kept his word and that he selected Ketanji Jackson, my personal nominee.