Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of three Republicans who voted to support Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, found herself in a unique political position as she deliberated the nomination .
A moderate known for her willingness to break from her party, Ms Murkowski faces a tough re-election contest in conservative-leaning Alaska, where her vote last year to condemn former President Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial left her vulnerable to a challenge from the right. Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-endorsed rival, is eager to portray her as a Washington insider interested in serving her Democratic friends rather than the people of her state.
A vote against Judge Jackson could have blunted such attacks, appealing to conservatives who might otherwise have been alienated by Ms. Murkowski’s rifts with Mr. Trump and the Republican Party.
But Ms Murkowski, now in her third term as a senator, has a reputation for being unpredictable when it comes to her votes on Supreme Court confirmations and had a decent political rationale to support Justice Jackson’s.
A vote to confirm President Biden’s nominee could potentially help Ms. Murkowski convince centrist Republicans, independents and Democrats who could vote for her in Alaska’s new open primary system and compensate those on the right who abandoned her. because of his frequent defections. of the party line and Mr. Trump.
Ms Murkowski has no challenger to her left, leaving little political price to pay for a vote against Judge Jackson’s confirmation.
After leaving reporters, her colleagues and the White House guessing for days about how she would vote, Ms Murkowski finally said she would support Judge Jackson, in part, she said, to reject “the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees”. , which, on both sides of the aisle, is getting worse and more detached from reality with each passing year.
In a press release announcing her support, she also praised the “qualities of the judge, which no one questions; its demonstrated judicial independence; his behavior and temperament; and the important perspective she would bring to the court” replacing Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
Throughout the process, her advisers insisted that politics played no role in her thinking and that she simply considered the record and the judge’s qualifications to make her decision.