The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Kristen Clarke to run the civil rights division at the Department of Justice on Thursday, but her confirmation is still not certain as a handful of key moderate senators have yet to announce their stance on the nominee.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, all have yet to take a public position on Clarke’s nomination. Those four are considered the most important swing votes on any nominee of President Biden’s that is particularly polarizing.
Murkowski broke ranks with Republicans to help confirm Vania Gupta as associate attorney general last month, and also voted for Deb Haaland to be Interior secretary. Manchin, meanwhile, scuttled the confirmation hopes of Neera Tanden, Biden’s former nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, when he publicly opposed her.
Kristen Clarke delivers remarks after being nominated to be civil rights division assistant attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 07, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. From 2014 to 2017 Gupta served as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama Administration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) ( Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CONTROVERSIAL BIDEN DOJ CIVIL RIGHTS NOMINEE TAKES STEP CLOSER TO CONFIRMATION
None of the senators’ offices took a stance for or against Clarke, who has a history of controversial comments against senators, Supreme Court justices and on policing, when contacted by Fox News multiple times Thursday and Friday.
To be confirmed, Clarke will likely only need votes from two of those four senators, which assuming all other senators vote with their parties, would lead to a 50-50 tie that Vice President Harris could break.
The Judiciary Committee deadlocked with an 11-11 party-line vote Thursday, which under a deal struck by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will allow Clarke’s nomination to advance to the floor via a simple-majority vote on a discharge petition.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to members of the media prior to his meeting with CIA Director Nominee Gina Haspel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, May 7, 2018. Manchin is often a key vote on the confirmation of President Biden’s executive nominees. (AP/File)
“Ms. Clarke has the breadth and depth of civil rights experience needed to revitalize the Civil Rights Division at this critical time,” committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.
Schumer also lauded Clarke in a floor speech, saying that she’s “an extremely well-qualified and capable civil rights attorney who would be the first Black woman to ever fill her position at the Justice Department.”
BIDEN DOJ NOMINEE KRISTEN CLARKE DEFENDS PAST CONTROVERSIAL WRITINGS ON RACE
But Clarke also has a history of making highly controversial statements, including a 2020 Newsweek op-ed headlined: “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police—But Be Strategic.” Clarke said in a hearing bef
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