Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 8. If confirmed, she would be the court’s first Black female justice. Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Sen. Susan Collins will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, her office announced Wednesday morning, making her the first Republican to commit to doing so and all but assuring Jackson’s confirmation.

Collins – who met a second time with Jackson after last week’s confirmation hearings – said she had reviewed the nominee’s record and believes “she possesses the experience, qualifications and integrity” to serve on the nation’s highest court.

“In my meetings with Judge Jackson, we discussed in depth several issues that were raised in her hearing,” Collins said in her statement. “Sometimes I agreed with her; sometimes I did not. And just as I have disagreed with some of her decisions to date, I have no doubt that, if Judge Jackson is confirmed, I will not agree with every vote that she casts as a justice. That alone, however, is not disqualifying.”

Collins was not available for an interview Wednesday, but she told the New York Times her unusual second meeting with Jackson on Tuesday reassured her the nominee – who would be the first Black woman to serve on the court – would not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference.”

In her statement, Collins argued that the Senate’s confirmation process is in disarray to the disservice of the country.

“In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications and integrity of the nominee,” Collins said in her statement. “It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual senator or would rule exactly as an individual senator would want.”


“It used to be common for senators to give the president, regardless of political party, considerable deference in the choice of the nominee,” she said, noting that conservative Justice Antonin Scalia was confirmed 98-0 in 1986 and his liberal colleague, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was approved 96-3 in 1993.

“No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, anyone who has watched several of the last Supreme Court confirmation hearings would reach the conclusion that the process is broken,” she added.

Jim Melcher, professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington, says Collins’ move is important for the legitimacy of the nation’s highest court and reflects Collins’ governing philosophy. “Since Supreme Court rulings rely on people’s recognition of its legitimacy, having even one Republican senator voting for it helps the legitimacy of the court,” he said.

“Her support was always likely, but it wasn’t a foregone conclusion,” Melcher added.

Carl Tobias, the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia, also praised Collins’ approach to the nomination process.

“I think she really did her homework and had a very pragmatic approach to her vote,” he said. “She was realistic that she knew she won’t agree with every vote of every nominee she has voted for, but that’s not the standard. More senators should follow that lead and approach those kinds of decisions in the way she did.”


University of Southern Maine political scientist Ron Schmidt said bipartisan support is especially crucial now given a growing legitimacy crisis for the court. Schmidt pointed to conservatives effectively gaining a justice by refusing to give former President Barack Obama’s nominee a hearing and to current Justice Clarence Thomas failing to recuse himself in a case that turned out to involve the exposure of his wife’s participation in former President Donald Trump’s effort to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

“The court’s legitimacy seems to be plummeting and even though justices don’t have to run for re-election, the court’s ability to have its rulings followed depends on the population believing its authority is sound,” Schmidt said.

In her 25 years in the Senate, Collins has voted against only one Supreme Court nominee: Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the then-Republican-controlled Senate eight days before the 2020 presidential election. Noting her Republican colleagues’ decision not to allow Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to receive a confirmation hearing in an election year, Collins said the chamber “should follow the precedent set four years ago and not vote on a nominee prior to the presidential election.”

Her earlier vote to confirm another of Trump’s nominees, Brett Kavanaugh, undermined her support among Democratic voters in Maine both because of the sexual assault allegations against him and because of fears that he would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, despite Collins’ assertions that his declared support for past precedents would protect abortion rights. On Sept 21, Kavanaugh voted with four of his Republican-appointed colleagues to deny an emergency petition to block enforcement of a Texas law that bans nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a vote seen by many as foreshadowing the end of Roe v. Wade.

Unlike with Kavanaugh, Collins’ vote will not determine the final outcome of Jackson’s confirmation bid as Democrats narrowly control the Senate and there is no indication that any of them are opposed to her confirmation. Two other Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, have yet to take a position.

Jackson, a judge on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is considered highly qualified. Collins and other Republicans voted for her confirmation to her previous federal judgeships. Maine’s junior senator, independent Angus King, has voted to confirm Jackson to lower courts and has signaled his likely support. The final confirmation vote is expected to take place early next month.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.