Jackson Supreme Court confirmation: Sparks fly as senators press nominee child porn sentencing, CRT in school

Jackson Supreme Court confirmation: Sparks fly as senators press nominee child porn sentencing, CRT in school thumbnail

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Sparks flew in Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing Tuesday as Republican senators clashed with Jackson on her sentencing record for child pornography offenders.

Senators also brought up hot-button issues from critical race theory to the emergency powers the Supreme Court used to block President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and questioned whether she was too lenient on a “drug kingpin.” But by far the most contentious exchange came when Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., pressed Jackson over a particular grisly porn case.

Hawley noted that Jackson sentenced an 18-year-old to just three months in prison for possession of lengthy videos and images of pre-pubescent children performing sexual acts. The case was referred to the prosecutors for two years.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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While she was sentencing the individual, Hawley said, Jackson apologized to him and his family for the pain the sentence would cause.

“Is the victim here or the victims? Hawley added later.

Jackson said that the man’s porn “wasn’t actually as big as it seems” and was “fascinated” by sexual images that involved what were essentially your peers. “

“Judge, he was 18, these kids are 8. I don’t see in what sense they’re peers,” Hawley said.

Jackson supported her decision regarding that sentence.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., meets U.S. Supreme Court nominee and federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in his office at the United States Capitol building in Washington, March 9, 2022. 

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., meets U.S. Supreme Court nominee and federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in his office at the United States Capitol building in Washington, March 9, 2022.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

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“Unlike the many other child pornography offenders that I had seen as a judge … this particular defendant had just graduated from high school,” she said. “Some of the materials he was looking at were older teens.”

“Sentencing is a discretionary act of a judge. She said that it is not a numbers game. “Congress gave judges the power to make the decision, but also required them to do so on an individual basis. “

Hawley said the 18-year-old had “an extremely large collection of pre-pubescent pornography” of children ages 8, 10 and 11 years old. Hawley stated that she was questioning her discretion and her judgment. “I am not questioning your character as a person. Your excellence as a judge is not under question, honestly. You said it. You had discretion, and that’s exactly why I’m asking. I am curious about how you used your discretion in these instances. “

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Florida.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Florida.
(AP)

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“I believe you care for children,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also told Jackson. “But I also see a history of activism and advocacy in relation to sexual predators that goes back decades. This is alarming. “

Cruz was referencing not just the child pornography cases Hawley talked about but also a note Jackson wrote in law school that called into question whether some types of laws for sexual offenders are constitutional.

Jackson claimed Cruz, her law school classmate, was misinterpreting the purpose of the note she wrote. It was published in Harvard Law Review.

” My point was not that the laws are bad, but that they were wrong. Jackson stated that Jackson was trying to evaluate something fundamental in terms the characterization of laws.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Washington. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“What I was trying to do is figure out how to make the determination whether they were punitive or preventative,” she said. “My note was not advocating for the repeal of these laws.

Cruz pressed Jackson further about the alleged use critical race theory at an elementary school Jackson is on the board of.

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“When you just testified a minute ago that you didn’t know of critical race theory … in K through 12, I will confess, I find that statement a little hard to reconcile with the public record,” Cruz said. “Because the Georgetown Day School’s curriculum is overflowing with critical racism theory… among… books that are either assigned, or recommended. “

Cruz cited a book that was taught to elementary school students. He said it argued that babies are taught to be racists or anti-racists. There is no neutrality. They also recommend that babies confess to being racist in another section of the book. “

“Does this book agree with the idea that babies are racist? Cruz asked Jackson.

” Jackson stated that he did not believe any child should feel like they were racists, not valued, or that they were… oppressors. Jackson stated, “I don’t believe in any of this. “

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill.

Senator Tom Cotton (Republican from Arkansas) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on the conclusion to military operations in Afghanistan and future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill.
(Patrick Semansky)

In another tough round of questioning, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pressed Jackson on rising crime and the need to increase police — which Jackson declined to answer. He then pressed Jackson on a specific fentanyl dealer, whose sentence Jackson reduced in an act Cotton called blatant judicial activism. Cotton claimed that Jackson took it upon herself, Cotton stated, to convert the man’s compassionate release motion into a motion for a reduced sentence. She applied a law that was not retroactive as if it was.

“You chose to rewrite the law because you were sympathetic to a fentanyl drug kingpin whom you had expressed frustration at having sentenced him to his 20-year sentence in the first place. You twisted the law, and you rewrote the law. “

Jackson said she disagreed with Cotton’s reading of the situation. She stated that the law used by the man allowed for reduced sentences and not just compassionate release. She stated that Congress provided judges with the chance to review sentences through the compassionate release mechanism.

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans weren’t the only senators who brought up hot-button issues in the Jackson hearing Tuesday.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked Jackson when it would be appropriate for the court to use its “shadow docket” – its ability to take up emergency appeals on an expedited basis, and issue rulings in those cases often without hearing oral arguments. Democrats have regularly decried that emergency docket in recent years, especially as it was often used in 2020 by religious groups who sought to block blue-state coronavirus restrictions.

The Supreme Court also declined to block the controversial Texas abortion law in an emergency docket case, and it agreed to block President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in such a case.

Jackson did not engage Klobuchar about the controversial issue that has riled up Democrats in recent decades.

“There’s a balance that the court has to consider… insofar as on the one hand, it has always had an emergency docket, the need for flexibility, the ability to get answers to the parties at issue is something that’s important in our system,” Jackson said. Jackson said that the court has considered the possibility of issues percolating, allowing other courts the opportunity to decide on them before the court. “

There was also some partisanship between Republican and Democrat senators. In her afternoon questioning of Jackson, Sen. Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii) mentioned Jackson’s child pornography cases and the recommendations of the probation office. Cruz denied that Republicans had been given those documents when Jackson referred to them earlier in the day.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the fourth day of hearing on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the fourth day of hearing on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

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Cruz said that raised the question “whether the White House is providing differential material on this nominee’s background to Democratic members than Republican members. “

Durbin dismissed Cruz’s complaints before a break during the hearing. Cruz claimed that Republicans were given a paper with the sentencing guidelines by the White House, which he was told Cruz had been given to him earlier in the day.

“What else do Democrats have in this case that they aren’t sharing with Republicans? Cruz asked. Cruz asked. “

Durbin stated that all the material was available to anyone who asked. Sen. John Kennedy, R.La., was not satisfied.

“So, you had to be clairvoyant in order to know they had it? He said. “So I would expect to say, jeez! After Sen. Hawley asks questions, I’d like to call the White House to see if they can help.

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