Video shows Mitt Romney applauding Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation
As expected, the Senate confirmed Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday with Republican senators from Utah on opposite sides of the narrow bipartisan vote.
Sen. Mitt Romney was among three Republicans who joined 50 Democrats in the 53-47 vote confirming Jackson, who will be the first black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Jackson will replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his effective retirement at the end of the court’s current term this summer.
In a video that has since gone viral, Romney is seen alone applauding Jackson’s confirmation as fellow Republicans, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, walk out of the Senate chamber after the vote.
Lee voted against his confirmation. He said he found in her a great person with impressive academic and professional credentials, but he took issue with her approach to case law.
“I wish I could support her. I can’t,” he said during a press conference with GOP senators on Thursday.
Lee cited Jackson’s reluctance to share his judicial philosophy during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. He said he found her criminal record “disturbing”, particularly the fact that she handed down “unacceptable and inexplicable” light sentences in child pornography cases.
Romney did not release a statement after the confirmation vote.
In an earlier statement, he said after reviewing Jackson’s record as a federal district and appellate court judge and her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he concluded that she was a qualified jurist and a person of honor. He said he didn’t expect to agree with every decision she might make at the Supreme Court, but he thinks she largely meets the standards of excellence and integrity.
Romney voted against Jackson’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit last summer.
“In pre-confirmation, I was concerned that she was out of the mainstream and following our hour-long meeting together and review of her testimony before Congress, I was satisfied that she was doing part of the mainstream,” he told reporters this week.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee say Jackson is outside the mainstream, particularly when it comes to his lesser sentences in child sexual abuse cases.
In a lengthy speech to the Senate on Wednesday night, Lee outlined his opposition to Jackson’s confirmation.
A candidate who claims to have no judicial philosophy is either misleading or unfit for a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, he said.
“A judge without a judicial philosophy is no more useful than a pastor without theology. It’s just someone making it up as they go, disguising their opinions in scripture,” Lee said in his speech.
Jackson explained during the hearings that she has a methodology for deciding cases, which Lee says is nothing more than a recitation of what judges do, but not how they do it.
Lee said Democrats on the committee told Republicans to look at Jackson’s filing to understand his legal philosophy, but were denied access to relevant documents.
Jackson, he said, acted outside of his jurisdiction in some cases involving the Trump administration to achieve his preferred political outcome.
“Every part of Judge Jackson’s record, that is, every part that has been given to us, seems to indicate some kind of desire to break away from the fundamentals in order to achieve the desired results,” Lee said.
Romney found the questioning of Jackson by some Republicans during the confirmation hearing to be disrespectful.
“Some colleagues on my side of the aisle, I thought, asked respectful questions and were able to get answers from her which I think were very helpful for those doing an assessment,” he said. told CNN’s Kasie Hunt last week.
But he said: “I thought some were preparing for their presidential campaign. And were, if you will, doing what you have to do to get on TV, which I think is unfortunate.