Sen. Roy Blunt says Ketanji Brown Jackson will be confirmed, but he won't support her

"I was hoping that I could be a part of that," the senator said.

April 3, 2022, 11:24 AM

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Republican leadership, said he will not vote to support President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, for her historic confirmation to the nation's highest court, citing disagreements with her judicial philosophy.

"Initially, my sense is that the president certainly had every good intention and every right in the campaign to talk about putting the first Black woman on the court," Blunt told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos exclusively on Sunday. "I think it's time for that to happen. I was hoping that I could be part of that."

The retiring senator continued, "I think she's certainly going to be confirmed. I think it'll be a high point for the country to see her go on the court. But I don't think she's the kind of judge that will really do the kind of work that I think needs to be done by the court. And I won't be supporting her, but I'll be joining others and understanding the importance of this moment."

Blunt was considered one of the few Republicans who may cross the aisle to support Jackson's nomination. While only three GOP senators supported Jackson's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year, Blunt was absent for that vote, and said he had a "good discussion" with Jackson when they met on March 16.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Jackson's nomination Monday, but the full Senate has yet to schedule the final vote. She is expected to be confirmed with at least one Republican vote, as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Wednesday that she would vote to confirm Jackson.

Stephanopoulos pressed Blunt on his decision to vote against her nomination, asking, "If it's a high point for the country, why not support her?"

"Well, I think the lifetime appointments have different criteria than other appointments," Blunt responded, later adding that "she just doesn't meet the criteria" to secure his vote.

Stephanopoulos then turned to another issue facing the Supreme Court -- the controversy currently surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife's reported involvement in urging former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results.

"How about these calls for Justice Thomas to recuse himself from the Jan. 6 investigation cases given the active involvement of his wife Ginni Thomas and the push for an ethics code for Supreme Court justices?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"The idea that you can't disagree with your wife on a public issue and still be able to function as a judge or as a government figure of any kind, I think is an idea that's long outlived any idea that it might be reasonable," Blunt answered.

"You know that he disagrees with her?" Stephanopoulos pressed.

"Judge Thomas has to decide that," Blunt said. "He's going to look at the law. He's going to look at what the law says and what the Constitution says and rule in that regard."

He added that he is "totally supportive" of the Justice Department's investigation and prosecution of participants in "any illegal activity" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Lawmakers on the House Jan. 6 Select Committee are pushing Attorney General Merrick Garland to ramp up the Department of Justice's investigation of the insurrection. The pressure on the DOJ follows debate over whether former President Donald Trump could face criminal charges after a ruling from a federal judge in California last week who said it was "more likely than not" that Trump committed several federal crimes in an effort to overturn the 2020 election.

When asked whether Trump should be subject to any federal prosecution, Blunt reiterated his support for the department's investigation, saying, "I think the Justice Department has a job to do. They should do it. And people who were involved in planning or execution of illegal activities on Jan. 6 should be prosecuted."

Earlier on "This Week," Stephanopoulos interviewed White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who defended the Biden administration's record as inflation and gas prices soar across the country.

But, Blunt said, "the biggest political issue in the country today is clearly inflation."

"All you have to do is go to the gas station or the grocery store or pay your winter heating bill to know that something unacceptable has happened," he added.

While Biden has taken steps in an effort to bring down high gas prices, such as ordering the release of 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve per day over the next six months, the Missouri Republican argued that oil prices were already at "unacceptable levels long before [Vladimir] Putin did anything regarding Ukraine."

As Russian forces pull out of the capital city of Kyiv, Stephanopoulos asked Blunt what more the United States can do to support Ukraine.

"Well, I think we should be doing everything we can. We should give them what they need as quickly as they needed," Blunt said, adding, "What the president has done has generally been the right thing, but about two or three weeks slower than it should have been."

As a member who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Blunt emphasized the role of U.S. intelligence in assessing Russian military operations and debunking a possible false flag operation, which he called "incredibly helpful."

He also echoed the widespread praise for the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding, "I hope he continues to be safe and brave and his country is rallying behind that willingness to be there and be in the fight."