Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday explained why Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Supreme Court nominee he would not vote for.
The Senate Judiciary Committee went on to cast an 11-11 vote along party lines on approving her nomination, adding a procedural step to advance her nomination to the full Senate.
Speaking at the final hearing before the vote to advance her out of committee, Graham said that Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy and some of her judicial decisions were disqualifying and fired back at Democrats for emphasizing Jackson’s race in the nomination procedure.
“I’ll vote no,” Graham began. “First time I’ve ever voted against any Supreme Court nominee. Let me tell you how I got there.” Graham pointed out that he did vote for Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, because he expected a Democratic president to appoint liberal judges to the federal courts, but said that “the Supreme Court is different from the Circuit Court.”
“Now that you’re talking about the Supreme Court, you’re making policy, not just bound by it,” he said.
Graham also pointed out that Judge Jackson’s nomination had a “political moment.” He expressed contentment with the decision to nominate a black woman to the court, saying it would make the Court “look more like America.” But Graham claimed Judge Jackson’s nomination was “embraced by the most radical people in the Democratic movement, to the exclusion of everybody else. After four days of hearings, I now know why the left likes her so much. It became obvious to me why she was their ‘first,’ and apparently, only, choice.”
Graham lamented the fact that the Biden administration could have picked a more appealing candidate who was still liberal but could have gotten more Republican support, but decided to appease the far left instead.
“So why am I voting no?” Graham continued. “On our side, we like judges to be bound by the written letter of the law.”
He then pointed to a decision made by Judge Jackson in a 2019 lawsuit against former President Trump’s immigration policy. While the text of the law clearly favored the Trump administration, Jackson ruled for the plaintiffs, who Graham noted were funded by a left-wing dark money group. The decision was subsequently overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“That to me says everything I need to know about how she’s going to govern. [If] she wants an outcome, she’s gonna find it. She’s gonna get it. Activist to the core,” Graham said.
He also pointed to Republican criticism that accused Jackson of lowering sentences for child pornography cases, saying that “lost [him] completely,” and pressed for the Judiciary Committee to debate mandatory minimum sentences for child porn cases.
Finally, Graham turned to the prospect of Jackson being the first black woman on the Supreme Court.
“That’s true, and the reason that’s true is because of what y’all did to Janice Rogers Brown,” Graham said, pointing to Democrats’ 2005 filibuster of Judge Brown to the D.C. Circuit because of her conservative views, and the scuttling of her nomination to the Supreme Court because of Democrats’ threats to filibuster her again. “You made it that way,” Graham said, pointing to the Democratic side of the Committee room. “Because when you had a chance to support an African-American conservative, you used her ideology against her, you blocked her from being considered by this Committee, and we’re supposed to be like trained seals over here, clapping when you appoint a liberal. That’s not gonna work. We live in an America today where your ideology is held against you if you’re conservative, and when you’re a liberal we’re supposed to embrace everything about you and not ask hard questions. That’s not the world we’re gonna live in,” Graham said.
You can watch Graham’s full statement here.