Iowa’s U.S. Senators Grassley and Ernst will vote against Judge Jackson’s SCOTUS confirmation

With support from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is still expected to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Gabby Drees

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks in a Daily Iowan interview at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Natalie Dunlap and Caleb McCullough

WASHINGTON — As Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faces a floor confirmation vote this week, Iowa’s U.S. senators will not be voting to confirm the judge to the court, they announced this week.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told The Daily Iowan that Jackson’s judicial philosophy, which he said is fundamentally different from his own, outweighed her qualifications in his decision.

“[Democrats] voted against Gorsuch and Barrett and Kavanaugh,” he said. “Nobody said they weren’t qualified to be on the Supreme Court, but it’s how some senators approach the Constitution and what judges ought to do versus other members of the Senate.”

Grassley announced on Monday he would vote against confirming Jackson to the court. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, announced in a floor speech on Tuesday that she, too, would vote against the nomination.

Ernst echoed many of the comments Grassley and other Republicans made, saying she had concerns about Jackson’s approach to deciding cases.

RELATED: SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson receives split vote from Senate Judiciary Committee

“If a justice’s legal interpretation has no philosophical grounding, that provides flexibility for a justice to bend their thinking to achieve a desired outcome instead of following a structured analysis,” she said.

Ernst also invoked many Republican rallying points throughout the confirmation hearings in explaining her decision — she said she was concerned about Jackson’s sentencing record on child pornography cases and her answer to the question on the definition of a woman from Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

“I have had an opportunity to view some of the hearings because I’m not on Judiciary any longer,” Ernst told the DI before her announcement. “And I was able to sit down with her last week, and so I’ve asked a number of questions, many of them are the same that I ask of every nominee.”

Jackson is set to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who plans to retire when his replacement is confirmed. Jackson previously served as a law clerk for Breyer and is currently a judge on Washington, D.C.’s federal appellate court. With a decade of experience in federal courts, she has served in trial court, private practice, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Grassley said when looking at a nominee, he considers how they look at the Constitution as it was originally written.

“It’s kind of how you view what I’d call a strict constructionist, versus legislating from the bench, and I see her as somebody that would legislate from the bench,” he said. “And then what’s wrong with that is if you’re assuming some of the responsibilities of Congress — you can’t vote a judge with a lifetime appointment out of office.”

Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah — have said they will vote to confirm Jackson. Those commitments all but guarantee Jackson will get the 51 votes needed to be confirmed to the high court.

“If 10 Republicans voted for her, or if 25 of them, each senator has got to decide for themselves, and I decided my position,” Grassley said. “It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I’ve got 46 friends voting with me. I don’t plan things that way.”

Democrats have praised Jackson’s qualifications and record throughout the confirmation process, noting her decade of experience in the federal court system and time on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said on Monday that Jackson was supremely qualified to be on the Supreme Court, saying her record is “one of evenhandedness.”

“She is dedicated to protecting judicial independence, to advancing freedom and liberty, and to making the Court, its work, and its decisions accessible to all Americans,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee reached a deadlock on Monday on a vote to recommend Jackson to the court, voting 11-11 along party lines. The Senate voted to discharge Jackson from the committee Monday and is working through the process of bringing her confirmation to a full vote.

Jackson is President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to serve on the Court. The Senate will likely bring her confirmation to a floor vote by the end of the week.

“I think it’s fantastic any time that we can see diversity,” Ernst told the DI. “The important thing is that we make sure we have qualified people that are serving, so that also should be first and foremost when people are looking at the Supreme Court, because it is such an important position.”