Susan Collins is the first Republican senator to support confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If she is confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve in the country’s highest judicial body.
Collins made her announcement on Wednesday morning and spoke to reporters a short time later in Washington, D.C.
"In the end, I decided she had the qualifications, the experience and the credentials," Collins explained.
"We had an in-depth discussion of many of the cases that were brought at the hearings," the senator added, noting that she "didn’t always agree with the results" that Jackson "came up with."
However, Collins also said she “had no doubt (Jackson) applies a very careful approach to the facts of a case.”
"I have to say I was not surprised," said Andrew Rudalevige, the chair of the Bowdoin College Department of Government and Legal Studies, who said the senator’s decision matches many others she’s made o presidential picks in the past.
"I think her default has been to support a presidential choice unless she feels she can’t do so," he said.
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That said, Collins is now far from the 2020 campaign and years away from a re-election fight, if she chooses to seek office again at all.
For Rudalevige, that means a vote to put Jackson on the court will not likely be as controversial as Collins’ choice to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh nor will it affect the court’s current conservative majority.
"Given a historic pick, the first Black woman justice to serve on that court, perhaps that too appeals to Senator Collins," Rudalevige noted.
In her written announcement in support of Jackson, Collins also used the word "disturbing" in reference to what she sees as a "trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process."
Asked about that, Rudalevige said the senator has a point, that the process of nominating someone to serve as a justice has become vicious and more about ideology than legal qualifications, even if at times, the supreme court has found itself unable to avoid certain past political environments.
"I don’t think she’s wrong about that, it’s become quite nasty," he said.
Whether or not Collins remains the sole Republican senator supporting Jackson is an open question.
She declined to speculate on that with reporters on Wednesday morning.