Good on Susan Collins for Doing the Bare Minimum

Her announcement today likely ensures that Ketanji Brown Jackson will be confirmed with bipartisan support.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in her office on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/ZUMA

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced today that she’ll vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as a Supreme Court justice, becoming the first Republican to do so and securing a victory for Joe Biden, who can now brag that his court pick garnered support from across the aisle. 

Collins’s statement, along with a similar commitment from Sen. Joe Manchin, all but guarantees that Jackson will ascend to the court and likely means that Vice President Kamala Harris will not have to cast a tie-breaking vote. 

The Democrats have been trying to get a Republican in their corner to create the appearance of a bipartisan confirmation for awhile, with a particular eye to Collins and her fellow moderates Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney. Along with Lindsay Graham (now a probable no-vote), Murkowski and Collins were the only Republicans to support Jackson’s appointment to the appeals court, and Romney has signaled that he’ll keep an open mind about her nomination. 

In an interview with the New York Times explaining her decision, Collins bemoaned the way that the confirmation process has become politicized. 

“In my view, the role under the Constitution assigned to the Senate is to look at the credentials, experience and qualifications of the nominee,” she said. “It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the individual ideology of a senator or would vote exactly as an individual senator would want.”

The statement was in line with Collins’ broader efforts to cast herself as one of the “reasonable” conservatives. Over her quarter-century tenure in the Senate, she has tried to cultivate a brand as a Republican moderate coasting above petty partisan divides and willing to buck her party’s consensus. On certain issues, she has, in fact, gone against the GOP grain—voting to convict Donald Trump following his second impeachment, pushing for a doomed independent commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot, and opposing the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. But in 2018, she traumatized Democrats by casting a crucial vote in support of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (but only after a great deal of handwringing to let everybody know that it was a tough decision). At the time, Collins, rather credulously, scoffed at warnings that Kavanaugh would help roll back reproductive rightsa possibility that now seems quite likely.

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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