Elizabeth Wydra: On Jackson vote, Romney will be on the right side of history

Supreme Court candidate has more judicial experience than many already on the court.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney will soon be on the right side of a historic vote.

Following the announcement by Justice Stephen Breyer that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of its current term, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill that vacancy.

Last week, Romney said that he and Jackson “had a wide-ranging discussion about her experience and qualifications. Her dedication to public service and her family are obvious, and I enjoyed our meeting. I appreciate the time she spent answering my questions, which was helpful as I continue my review of her record and testimony.” This week, Romney announced he will vote to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Romney was not alone among his Republican colleagues who had a positive meeting with Jackson. Senator Susan Collins. R-Maine, announced her support for Jackson last week after having, as Collins described it, “a lengthy and very productive conversation” with her early last month. As Collins explained, Jackson “has been a law clerk, a public defender, an attorney in private practice, a member of the Sentencing Commission, a district court judge for more than eight years, and now a circuit court judge.”

In fact, for each of Jackson’s positions on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, U.S. District Court, and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, she was confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support. Additionally, Jackson has more than two years’ more experience on the bench than Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts had, combined, before they joined the Supreme Court. No wonder, then, that the American Bar Association gave Jackson “a unanimous rating of ‘Well Qualified.’”

As one of the strongest nominees to the Supreme Court in American history, Judge Jackson would, if confirmed, also be the first Black woman ever to serve on the High Court.

Following Jackson’s confirmation hearings, Romney and the nation have more than a sterling resume and outstanding record for evaluating this nomination. We saw Jackson’s steady judicial temperament on the national stage, under the klieg lights of scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee. We watched as Jackson faced down, with strength and grace, a barrage of baseless and vicious attacks from a handful of Senators, whose accusations were found “off course” by other Republicans, including Senator Romney.

We also saw Jackson unpack her judicial methodology as she explained her thorough, painstaking method for deciding cases in a fair and impartial fashion, explaining that “I am trying in every case to stay in my lane.”

First, Jackson takes overt steps to assess a case fairly, to clear her mind of “any preconceived notions.” Next, Jackson “examines arguments on both sides and the factual record” and then she applies “the law and relevant precedents,” being “conscious of limits on judicial authority.” When seeking to understand the text of the law she is applying, she “focus[es] on the original public meaning because I’m constrained to interpret the text.” As Jackson explained, “I believe that the Constitution is fixed in its meaning.”

During the last Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, Romney explained that “[i]f the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.” Judge Jackson’s qualifications are second to none. She has repeatedly demonstrated her overwhelming fitness for the role of Supreme Court Justice.

With his upcoming confirmation vote, Romney will be on the right side of history. As a superb, fair-minded jurist, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has demonstrated her powerful commitment to the text, history, and values of the whole Constitution and equal justice under law, and Romney is right to confirm her to the Supreme Court.

Elizabeth Wydra | Constitutional Accountability Center

Elizabeth Wydra is president of Constitutional Accountability Center, a public interest law firm and think tank dedicated to promoting the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text, history and values. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethWydra.