Ms. Collins, who sat down with Judge Jackson for about 90 minutes before last week’s hearings, had a second, hourlong in-person meeting with the judge on Tuesday afternoon in which the two hashed out several issues that came up before the Judiciary Committee.
During the hearings, Republicans on the panel raised questions about Judge Jackson’s sentencing history on child sex abuse defendants, and tried unsuccessfully to get her to express an opinion about whether seats should be added to the Supreme Court, as some progressives have advocated. Top Republicans, including some who were regarded as potential votes for Judge Jackson, have seized on her refusal to provide an answer on expanding the court as an obstacle to her confirmation.
“I don’t understand that, because it’s not an issue that will come before her in the court, so she should as a nominee be able to talk about it,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I’m concerned that she’s not been willing to do that.”
But Ms. Collins said Judge Jackson had assured her in their conversation on Tuesday that she “would forever stay out of that issue.”
Republicans also seized last week on a legal brief that Judge Jackson filed on behalf of terrorism detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which accused former President George W. Bush of having committed war crimes when his administration tortured detainees. Ms. Collins said Judge Jackson had explained during their meeting on Tuesday that she had not intended to accuse Mr. Bush personally of being a war criminal, but had used a common template for such cases.
“There can be no question that she is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice,” said Ms. Collins, citing Judge Jackson’s “breadth of experience as a law clerk, attorney in private practice, federal public defender, member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and district court judge for more than eight years.”
Judge Jackson also met on Tuesday with Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, who has been seen as a possible vote in her favor, though he opposed her nomination to the appeals court. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who backed Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the appeals court, is also considered a potential Republican supporter, and has yet to make her position known, saying only that her prior support is no indicator of how she will vote this time.