By Noah Millman, The Week
Ketanji Brown Jackson could be the last liberal SCOTUS appointment for the foreseeable future.
With her confirmation vote on Thursday, Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, the first Justice to have served as a public defender, and the beneficiary of one of the speediest confirmations in recent history, exceeded in the past 40 years only by the last appointee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And though her confirmation margin was narrow, she did receive the support of three Republican senators — Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — which is comparable to the Democratic support that Donald Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, received.
Notwithstanding the extreme rhetoric surrounding her nomination, then, it would seem the system ultimately worked. But it isn’t going to work this way for much longer. Unless something fundamental changes about the shape of American politics, Justice Jackson might be the last successful Democratic nomination for a long time.
The reason for this is the increasing nationalization of Senate elections and that chamber’s ever-more pronounced tilt against Democrats. Back in 2006, when President George W. Bush faced a massive midterm backlash, Democrats won more than 52 percent of the popular vote for the House of Representatives and took the Senate by capturing seats in states like Missouri and Ohio while retaining seats in deep-red territory like Nebraska and West Virginia. And when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 with nearly 53 percent of the popular vote, the Democrats won an overwhelming 59-seat Senate majority, capturing seats in Republican territories like Alaska and North Carolina and retaining seats in states like Louisiana and Arkansas that Obama lost badly.