Republican SCOTUS nominees 'should have been handled better,' says Durbin, top Democrat on Judiciary

As Senate Democrats prepare to wrap up the confirmation process of Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sen. Dick Durbin is ruminating on what's gone wrong in the past.
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Dick Durbin, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2021
Dick Durbin, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2021
(Tom Brenner/Pool/Getty Images)

Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that he wanted to be the "first to admit" that past Republican-nominated Supreme Court picks "should have been handled better" by his party during their confirmation hearings.

For the last several weeks, Durbin has vigorously defended President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, as she faced sometimes aggressive lines of questioning from Republicans on the Judiciary Committee.

"As I look back in history, there are things that should have been handled better when Republican nominees were before us," Durbin said on the Senate floor.

Jackson will likely be confirmed Friday by the full Senate, replacing retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

Throughout Jackson's confirmation process, she has been asked a number of questions by GOP lawmakers about her record, her judicial philosophy, and in particular, her stance on child pornography sentencing guidelines. Some GOP senators have pointed out that] in her capacity as a judge, Jackson has handed down light sentences for child pornography offenses.

Though some Democrats argued such questions were unfair, Senate Republicans argued otherwise, considering the 2018 confirmation process of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was President Trump's nominee.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham frequently referenced the Kavanaugh hearing during his time speaking to Jackson.

During one tense moment, he asked Jackson how she would feel if he had, without letting her know about it, given Durbin a letter accusing her of crime and misconduct just prior to the start of the hearings.

In 2018, Durbin accepted a letter signed by a number of women accusing Kavanaugh of being at the front of a "gang rape" operation in his teenage years.