“When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show,” Mr. McConnell had said earlier, making one last argument against Judge Jackson, whose nomination he framed as an example of extremists taking control of the Democratic Party. “The far left got the reckless inflationary spending they wanted. The far left has gotten the insecure border they wanted. And today, the far left will get the Supreme Court justice they wanted.”
Three Republicans — Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — crossed party lines to vote to confirm Judge Jackson, lending a modicum of bipartisanship to an otherwise bitterly polarized process.
It was a sign of the deeply divided times that winning over three Republicans was considered something of a victory. When Justice Breyer — nominated by President Bill Clinton — was confirmed in 1994, it was by a 87-to-9 vote, in line with prevailing sentiment at the time that presidents were entitled to their chosen justice, provided the nominee was qualified and temperamentally suited to the job.
But in recent years, Supreme Court confirmation fights have become political blood sport, featuring combative televised hearings in which senators of the opposite party seek to tarnish the reputation of the president’s nominee, while making partisan appeals to their core supporters.
Confirmations have fallen almost entirely along partisan lines. Democrats uniformly opposed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald J. Trump’s third nominee to the court, who was rushed through just before the 2020 election, and only one of them voted to confirm his second, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, whose explosive hearings included an allegation of sexual assault.
In 2017, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first nominee, received three Democratic votes — the same level of bipartisanship as Judge Jackson — but his nomination came only after Republicans had blocked President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court seat a year earlier, refusing to grant a hearing to his nominee, Merrick B. Garland, during an election year.