An imminent vacancy on the Supreme Court is the top story on this morning’s Sunday shows as key senators from both parties begin to show their cards. None is more key than Susan Collins, one of just three Republicans to vote yes on confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to the D.C. Circuit last year. Jackson is the frontrunner to replace Stephen Breyer on SCOTUS. Can we assume that Collins will vote yes this time too?
“This time there is no need for any rush. We can take our time, have hearings, go through the process … It is a lifetime appointment after all.”
— Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on filling Justice Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court pic.twitter.com/jgLes1qqdc
— The Recount (@therecount) January 27, 2022
Biden and the Democrats don’t want to take their time. They want this confirmation locked down ASAP before anything can go wrong, like a Democratic senator dying or Joe Manchin suddenly deciding he’s a Republican. Collins will chat with “This Week” about whether there’s any chance of her voting yes if Biden follows the same timetable the GOP followed with Amy Coney Barrett.
Another of the three Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson in 2021 is also booked this morning. That would be Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee charged with vetting Biden’s nominee. Graham will come under immense pressure from the right to vote no in the idle hope that a 50/50 deadlock will prevent confirmation even though it almost certainly wouldn’t. He’ll speak to “Face the Nation” about his intentions.
One other politician to watch on the subject of Breyer and the Court is a man who won’t get to cast a vote on the nominee. That’s James Clyburn, the number three Democrat in the House, who’s set to follow Graham on “Face the Nation.” Why is he important? Because he’s a buddy of Joe Biden’s and he’s backing a dark-horse candidate, federal judge Michelle Childs from his home state of South Carolina, for the Breyer vacancy. It’d be unusual for a district court judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court without a stop on the appellate bench first but Biden owes Clyburn big time for his help in the critical South Carolina primary in 2020.
Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine is this morning’s other hot topic, with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, ready to carry her government’s message to the American people on “Face the Nation.” Elsewhere, Tom Cotton will sit down with “Fox News Sunday” to give his thoughts on what Biden should do about the crisis. Cotton’s an interesting figure in the congressional debate because he’s a staunch hawk on the one hand and a populist eyeing a presidential run in 2024 or 2028 on the other. That leaves him with a dilemma: Should he be true to his inclinations and back Ukraine strongly against Putin or should he pander to the Tucker-loving nationalists whose votes he’ll need in a future primary by hedging on Russia’s behalf? We’ll find out. The full line-up is at the AP.