Nevada Sen. Cortez Masto will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson

Cortez Masto says she’ll vote to confirm Jackson

WASHINGTON – Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said Thursday she would vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson following a private meeting.

Jackson appears to have bipartisan support for confirmation after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced earlier this week that she would vote in support of the first Black woman nominated to sit on the Supreme Court.

“This is a historic one,” Cortez Masto told the Review-Journal of the nomination and likely confirmation of Jackson.

Cortez Masto said Jackson is a qualified candidate “who represents the interests of this country and the diversity of this country.”

The nominee is expected to sit down with Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., early next week.

Republican questions during a contentious week of hearings targeted Jackson’s role as a public defender of terrorist suspects held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and her sentences she handed down as a federal district judge in child pornography cases.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, declared that Jackson was “lenient” in her sentences of child pornographers and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Jackson accused former President George W. Bush of war crimes while she was defending a terror suspect.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee produced U.S. Sentencing Commission data to show Jackson’s sentences to suspects in similar cases was in the norm of those handed down nationwide, and court filings showed that Jackson never accused Bush of being a war criminal.

“It’s been discredited,” Cortez Masto, a Democrat, said of the GOP criticism of Jackson.

“So much of the attacks around her experience and background as a public defender and the work she did on the bench have been discredited,” said Cortez Masto, a former U.S. prosecutor and former Nevada attorney general.

The senator said she relied on experts and those who worked in the field, and her meeting with Jackson, to come to the conclusion to vote for her confirmation.

Collins also dismissed concerns of other GOP colleagues. Collins said Jackson never singled out Bush or then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as alleged war criminals in a court filing about conditions and detention practices of detainees following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Collin’s vote for Jackson’s confirmation would give Democrats the 51 votes needed to seat Jackson on the nation’s highest court without the need for a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the nomination Monday and a full Senate confirmation vote is expected to be held before the chamber begins its Easter recess.

Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he is hopeful several Republicans would vote in favor of the nominee, who received bipartisan support last year when she was elevated to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

In addition to Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., voted to confirm Jackson last year for the appellate court seat.

But Graham signaled during Jackson’s confirmation process last week that he favored another Black jurist from his home state, Judge Michelle Childs of South Carolina, who was not nominated. Graham accused left-leaning groups and organized labor of a coordinated smear to stop her.

And Murkowski has remained tight-lipped about her vote.

But Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has publicly said he is open to Jackson’s confirmation following a meeting with her on Tuesday. Romney said he would not announce his intention until the vote is cast next week.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.