Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington.
Watch Ketanji Brown Jackson's call from President Biden
01:27 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is receiving another major endorsement from a prominent Republican on Tuesday, this time a lawyer who represented President Donald Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald McGahn, among other former Trump White House officials.

Lawyer William Burck, in a statement obtained exclusively by CNN, said of Jackson that “no serious person can question her qualifications to the Court and to my mind her judicial philosophy is well within the mainstream.”

Burck’s statement comes in the wake of similar endorsements by retired conservative judges J. Michael Luttig and Thomas B. Griffith, Republican appointees, who both sat on federal appeals courts. Their messages run contrary to some heated comments made by Republicans on the hill after President Joe Biden announced his pick last Friday and could serve to lower the temperature on the hearings that are expected this spring.

The White House is in the midst of a carefully orchestrated rollout of the President’s nominee and will welcome the endorsement. While every White House tries to present their nominees in the best possible light – this White House composed of veterans of the confirmation process – has been particularly comprehensive. Biden served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Vice President Kamala Harris also sat on the committee more recently during confirmation battles. Ron Klain – a veteran of confirmation fights – serves as Biden’s chief of staff and White House counsel Dana Remus is a former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.

Even before the President made his choice, White House surrogates reached out to outside groups urging them to be ready to support the nomination. Remus, who usually stays behind the scenes, conducted a video call with supporters hours after the nomination was announced. She also warned them there would be attacks and some would be “disheartening,” but she urged them to support Jackson.

Burck, in his statement, stressed that Jackson should receive bipartisan support and her nomination should not trigger an angry confirmation fight.

“As a Republican, I hope Judge Jackson will garner substantial bipartisan support because she deserves to be judged on her personal merits which overwhelmingly weigh in favor of confirmation,” Burck said.

“Too often over the past several decades, Supreme Court nominations have descended into bitter partisan conflict and we lose sight of the most important qualities in a jurist,” he added. “Judge Jackson presents an opportunity to refocus on what matters – the nominee’s integrity, qualifications and commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.” He called Jackson “as good as they come” and said she was “far from an ideologue.”

Burck, now Co-Managing partner of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, met Jackson when they clerked together during the 1999- 2000 Supreme Court term. He clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy while she worked for Justice Stephen Breyer. He also worked as special counsel and deputy counsel to then-President George W. Bush, working for Brett Kavanaugh who was also serving in the administration.

In 2018, when Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, Bush hired Burck, in his capacity as a private attorney, to review Kavanaugh’s White House records that were housed in the Bush library. During the Mueller investigation, Burck represented McGahn, as well as former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House strategist Stephen Bannon.

When the Trump White House sought to block McGahn’s testimony to the House of Representatives in its impeachment probe it was Jackson, then sitting on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, who ruled against the Department of Justice in the case. In that dispute, McGahn was represented by the Justice Department, not by his private attorney Burck.

Burck has supported Jackson previously. Last April, Burck signed a letter with other Supreme Court clerks who served in the 1999 term supporting Jackson’s nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The clerks noted that while “our positions and judicial philosophy vary widely” they wrote to support Jackson because of her “intellect, character and experience.”

Appeals court judges back Jackson

Monday, two former appellate court judges endorsed Jackson’s nomination.

Former federal Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee to the Court of Appeals for DC Circuit who served alongside Jackson, offered his full-throated endorsement of her nomination to the Supreme Court.

In a Saturday letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin and top Republican member, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Griffith said Jackson was “immensely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.”

“Presidents should be entitled to their nominees provided certain levels of competence and qualifications are met,” Griffith wrote. “Judge Jackson clearly exceeds that bar.”

He added: “Judge Jackson and I occasionally differed on the best outcome of a given case. And in one important case involving the former President, I was one of two judges on a three-judge panel who voted to overturn her decision. However, I have always respected her careful approach, extraordinary judicial understanding, and collegial manner, three indispensable traits for success as a Justice on the Supreme Court.”

Griffith, the former general counsel of Brigham Young University, is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is among the Senate Republicans the White House is reaching out to in hopes of winning his support for her confirmation.

The Deseret News and Axios were first to report the letter.

And in a statement first obtained by CNN, Luttig, a retired federal judge who is considered a luminary in conservative legal circles, enthusiastically endorsed Jackson, describing her as a candidate who is “eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Luttig played a critical role in the heated fight over the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In a series of tweets, he provided legal ammunition to help former Vice President Mike Pence defy then-President Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.

Noting the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, Luttig called on Republicans “to confirm Judge Jackson out of political calculation, even if they cannot bring themselves to confirm her out of political magnanimity, and then proudly take the deserved credit for their part in elevating the first black female jurist to the Supreme Court of the United States.”