(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, began traditional courtesy calls with senators on Wednesday as Democrats announced her confirmation battle would get underway later this month.
The hearings will start on Monday, March 21 and conclude on Thursday March 24, setting Jackson on the path to what Democrats hope will be a speedy final confirmation vote, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said Wednesday.
“There’s no reason to wait or delay, as far as I’m concerned,” Durbin, D-Ill., said, setting the goal to get Jackson confirmed by the full Senate by the Easter recess starting April 8.
Biden announced Friday he would nominate Jackson to fill the seat of retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson, a Harvard law graduate, was confirmed to the Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit in a bipartisan vote last June, but faces a tougher confirmation battle for her spot on the high court. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
Jackson began her day on Capitol Hill with a 40-minute meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Before their meeting, Schumer said he looked forward to “hashing out all the great things that we read about and are seeing” about Jackson.
Following their closed-door discussion, he praised what he said were Jackson’s family values, empathy and ability to see things from both sides.
“I think she deserves support from the other side of the aisle, and I am hopeful that a good number of Republicans will support her, given who she is,” he said.
A few hours after their meeting, Schumer started Wednesday’s Senate session with even more praise.
“Now that I’ve met her, I’ll add another word: Belongs. She’s not only brilliant and beloved, but belongs on the Supreme Court,” Schumer said. “America will be better off — much better off — with someone like Judge Jackson on the Supreme Court.”
Former Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, designated by the White House to help shepherd Jackson’s nomination across the finish line, escorted her to a similar meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, before taking her to spend time with Durbin.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Durbin said he expects Judge Jackson will garner bipartisan support, saying he is hoping to have at least a handful of GOP senators vote to confirm her.
“I think it would be good for the Senate, good for the Supreme Court if that happens,” Durbin said, adding he wants the process to be fair.
In the evenly divided Senate, Democrats can confirm Jackson to the court without any Republican support. But that’s not how Durbin and other Democratic leaders hope it will go. While three Senate Republicans voted to confirm Jackson to the federal appeals court, several have said their previous votes will not determine how they vote on Jackson.
The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, echoed Durbin’s sentiment after his conversation with Judge Jackson. The two talked for just under 10 minutes.
He told reporters it is his responsibility to make sure the Senate has a fair and dignified process.
“We’re going to meet our constitutional responsibility of advice and consent with dignity and fairness and most importantly, thoroughness. Everybody expects us to do our job,” Grassley said.
When asked how her conversation with Grassley went, Judge Jackson replied, “Good, thanks.”
Senator Durbin has set the goal to confirm Jackson before the Senate’s easter recess, which starts April 8.
ABC’s Allison Pecorin and Trish Turner contributed to this report.
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