The Senate voted last week 53-47 in favor of confirming President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer once he steps down later this summer.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was one of only three Republican senators to vote affirmatively on Jackson, but that vote was only supported by a minority of his Utah constituents, Utah’s Deseret News reported.
Indeed, a majority of Utahns either directly opposed Jackson’s confirmation or didn’t know enough about her to say one way or the other.
Polling Jackson’s confirmation vote
Deseret News, in conjunction with the Hinckley Institute of Politics, conducted a poll between April 5-12 of 804 registered voters in Utah, with a margin of error of 3.46 percent, and asked those voters if they agreed or disagreed with Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The pollsters found that 47 percent of Utahns agreed with the confirmation of Jackson while 32 percent disagreed and 21 percent didn’t know enough about her to make a decision. Interestingly enough, that 47-53 split against Jackson’s confirmation is a mirror image of the Senate vote in favor of confirmation.
The pollsters also found an ideological divide on the question, as 90 percent of Democrats supported Jackson’s confirmation while Republicans were much more split on the question — 43 percent disagreed, 36 percent agreed, and 21 percent didn’t know.
As for independent and unaffiliated voters in the state, 45 percent agreed with the confirmation, 26 percent disagreed, and almost a third didn’t know either way.
Utah senators at odds over Jackson’s confirmation
That split among Republican voters was exemplified by Utah’s two Republican members of the Senate, as Romney voted in support of Jackson — after previously opposing her nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court last year — while Sen. Mike Lee cast his vote against Biden’s nominee.
Romney had released a statement days in advance of the vote expressing his intent to vote to confirm Jackson, despite knowing that he would almost assuredly disagree with some of her rulings in the future.
Lee, meanwhile, delivered a speech on the Senate floor just before the confirmation vote and explained that he would vote against her due to her decidedly unclear judicial philosophy as well as her “troubling record” of issuing lenient sentences to criminal defendants, particularly those convicted of child pornography crimes.
Neither senator will pay a steep cost to vote on Jackson
The split between Romney and Lee on the Jackson confirmation vote may not matter or prove consequential for either senator, though, according to Hinckley Institute of Politics director Jason Perry — perhaps most likely because Jackson’s replacement of Breyer means that the ideological balance of the court will remain unchanged.
“This vote for Mitt Romney or Mike Lee is not likely going to be a wedge issue or troubling campaign issue,” Perry explained. “It doesn’t appear to be a significant, weighty issue that Republicans are going to either reward or punish that idea.