Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is putting public and private pressure on his Senate Republican colleagues to oppose President Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court, despite the historic nature of her nomination to be the first Black woman on the court.
McConnell has dug in against Biden’s nominee, arguing the vote isn’t about “race or gender” but about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record, which he says is too soft on crime and indicates she’ll likely turn into an activist judge on the bench.
McConnell made an impassioned plea at a recent Senate GOP lunch for his colleagues to oppose Biden’s choice, according to senators who attended the meeting.
One Republican senator said McConnell leaned in hard on Jackson’s nomination.
“He sought recognition and said, ‘I just want to thank the members of the Judiciary Committee for the great work they’ve done in exposing this judge’s radical record, and in particular her record on child pornography cases are alarmingly extreme,’” the source said, recounting McConnell’s message to the conference.
McConnell talked about Jackson’s record in detail, including her decision to give one offender, Wesley Hawkins, a three-month sentence when federal prosecutors asked for him to be sent to prison for two years.
McConnell said, “I think the Democrats thought this would be an easy process, confirmation, but it’s not going to be because she’s a radical nominee, and I would hope that every Republican would look seriously at her record, which I think is troubling.”
The message is putting pressure on GOP swing voters such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah) to toe the party line and vote “no.”
Murkowski was present at the meeting where McConnell delivered his comments about the nominee but didn’t say anything. The Alaska Republican, who is up for re-election this year and faces a Republican primary challenger, also declined to comment about Jackson when asked about it by reporters on Tuesday and Thursday.
Romney says he still has to dig deeper into Jackson’s record before announcing his decision.
He said he “enjoyed” meeting with her Tuesday and that “her dedication to public service and her family are obvious.”
Republican strategists and longtime observers of McConnell’s leadership style say he views a unified Republican vote against Jackson as good politics heading into the midterm election and good for his own standing within the Senate GOP conference, which he plans to lead again in 2023 and 2024.