3 Republican Senators May Support Biden’s Supreme Court Pick

3 Republican Senators May Support Biden's Supreme Court Pick Sen. Lindsey Graham Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Peter Malbin | Monday, 31 January 2022 12:31 PM

While President Joe Biden does not need any Republican senators to support his Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, three GOP senators may support his pick anyway.

Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have all voted to confirm at least 60% of Biden’s judges since his term began, according to a Politico analysis.

Collins has backed 86% of Biden’s judicial nominees; Murkowski has supported 79% of them; and Graham voted for 62% of them, Politico reported.

Centrist Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have agreed with every Biden judicial nominee so far.

Conservative Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, of Missouri, who hasn’t voted for any of Biden’s judicial picks, said that if Biden "goes down the path he has been going" on judicial nominees, he'll have trouble getting Republican votes. "It deserves thorough scrutiny, and I hope that whoever it is, Republicans will be committed to doing that — and it won't just be a rubber stamp process,” Hawley said, Politico reported.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, meanwhile, cautioned Biden last week not to "outsource” the decision to the "radical left."

Sen. Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has voted for 48 Biden judges. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, has agreed to move forward on 25 judges, and top Judiciary Committee Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has supported advancing 20.

By contrast, Republican Sens. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, have not supported any of Biden's judges.

"Some of the people that are being considered have already been considered by the Judiciary Committee and did receive some Republican votes,' said former Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, now president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal legal group.

Sen. Grassley has supported 36% of the president’s choices for district and circuit court judgeships.

A vote for circuit or district court judge doesn’t guarantee a vote for a Supreme Court nominee, however.

Murkowski, Collins, and Graham were the only three Republicans to vote yes on the floor for the circuit nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is a front-runner for the vacancy.

Murkowski and Collins, meanwhile, said the Senate shouldn't rush the process.

In an interview on ABC News' "This Week," Collins said Biden's announcement of his intent to nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court made it a political choice, Newsmax reported.

"The way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best," Collins complained. "It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be. I certainly am open to whomever he decides to nominate. My job as a senator is to evaluate the qualifications of that person under the advice and consent role."

Also on Sunday, Graham said he understood Biden's rationale for wanting to add a Black woman to the Supreme Court and touted a district court judge from his home state, J. Michelle Childs, Politico reported.

"Let's make the court more like America," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But qualifications have to be the biggest consideration, and as to Michelle Childs, I think she’s qualified by every measure."

Nan Aron, founder of the liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice, estimated the odds that those three Republicans support Biden’s pick at "more likely than not, but not a guarantee."

If the confirmation is strictly partisan, it would be the first 50-50 Supreme Court vote in history.