April 8

By Iris Samuels

The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 Thursday to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, with Alaska’s two Republican senators split on the issue.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of three Republicans to vote in favor of confirming Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the country’s highest court. All Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the confirmation. Other Republicans voting in favor were Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Murkowski said in a statement this week that she had decided to support Jackson’s confirmation after multiple conversations with her.

The decision, Murkowski said, rests on her “rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees, which, on both sides of the aisle, is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.”

Murkowski told Politico that she decided to support Jackson after going on a “really good spring hike” while in Alaska last weekend.

She was also one of three Republicans who supported Jackson’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2021.
Sen. Dan Sullivan voted against the confirmation. In a statement released after the vote, Sullivan said that when vetting Supreme Court nominees, he looks for “a record and judicial philosophy that understands and emphasizes limits on federal judiciary and federal agency powers.”

“On these critical issues, I found her views and record to be very concerning,” Sullivan said, adding that Jackson “refused to embrace any judicial philosophy that places limits on the role of the judiciary in our constitutional system.”

Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who is running to unseat Murkowski in the November election, was quick to issue a statement attacking Murkowski for her vote.

Tshibaka, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump, said Jackson “is certain to participate in rulings that are directly harmful to the people of Alaska.”
“On votes as important as these, philosophy and ideology matter, not just the demographic characteristics of the nominee,” Tshibaka said.

Several Republicans, including Tshibaka, raised concern during the confirmation process over Jackson’s record in cases relating to child pornography, criticizing her for sentencing offenders below the minimum recommended by sentencing guidelines, despite the fact that she was following Justice Department recommendations.

“One thing that Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings made clear is that Congress needs to revisit the PROTECT Act to address the heinous crimes of child abuse, including child pornography,” Murkowski said in a statement after the vote Thursday. “It is the responsibility of Congress to provide updated direction to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and that review is underway.”