Bloomberg Law
Nov. 3, 2021, 8:49 PMUpdated: Nov. 4, 2021, 12:29 AM

Kamala Harris Breaks Senate Deadlock on Biden Judicial Pick (2)

Madison Alder
Madison Alder
Reporter

Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tie-breaking vote to advance the nomination of Jennifer Sung to the largest federal appeals court, avoiding a setback for Democrats in their accelerated effort to confirm judicial picks.

Harris was called to the Senate floor Wednesday night to break a 49-49 tie and gavel the vote to allow debate on Sung’s selection to a close. Sung is President Joe Biden’s first and only judicial nominee to receive a tie vote in the evenly-divided Judiciary Committee and the first to need an assist from Harris.

Sung’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was deadlocked 10-10 in committee with no Republicans supporting her. Republicans cited a letter she signed in 2018 opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The letter described him as an “intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologue.”

Sung apologized at her September confirmation hearing for creating an appearance of bias by signing the letter and said she recognized “much of its rhetoric was overheated.”

“If by signing that letter I created the impression that I would prejudge any case or fail to respect the authority of any Supreme Court justice or any of the court’s precedents, then I sincerely apologize,” Sung said.

Among Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans voting no was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who, up until that point, hadn’t opposed a single Biden judicial nominee in committee. Judiciary Democrats need one Republican to support a nominee or decline to vote to favorably report judicial nominees to the floor.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed a discharge motion on Sung’s nomination earlier Wednesday, which set up the evening vote. Sung still requires a cloture vote to end debate and then a confirmation vote.

(Updates with previous reporting on Sung starting in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com