Republicans roll the dice by grilling Jackson over sentencing on child pornography

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to grill judges Ketanji Brown JacksonKetanji Brown JacksonHawley says he wants to bring up child pornography cases during the Jackson hearing Kavanaugh fight casts long shadow over Jackson when he hears The Hill’s 12:30 report: Judge Jackson in the seat MORE Tuesday because of what they say is her record for leniency in convicting people who pleaded guilty to possession or distribution of child pornography – a politically charged charge.

Dens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGOP sounds alarm bells over Greiten’s claims. The note: The GOP seeks to make Jackson part of a broader Biden midterm war. Hawley says Greitens should drop out of Senate race over allegations of abuse MORE (R-Mo.), Which is largely assumed to have an eye on a candidacy for president, is pushing this question line the hardest. But other Republicans on the panel, such as Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Memo: GOP seeks to make Jackson part of the wider Biden midterm war Hawley says he wants to bring up child pornography cases during Jackson hearing LIVE COVERAGE: Senate begins confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson MORE (R-Tenn.), Is also expected to press Brown on the issue.

Of all the criticism leveled at Jackson, accusations that she has been lenient with child predators receive the most attention, but it is a politically risky line of attack against the first black woman nominated to serve in the country’s highest court. .

Republicans have promised a dignified confirmation process, and they do not want to appear to be unfairly united President BidenJoe BidenEx-Trump Personal Assistant Appears Before January 6 Panel Defense & National Security – Russia Sends Warnings to West On The Money – Feds Propose New Public Relations Rules MORE‘s nominated or performs an unfair attack.

“They have to worry about race and gender politics. They do not want to appear as if they are dating a black woman or are being unfair in their treatment of her,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. .

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP sounds alarm bells over Greiten’s claims Brooks does not promise to support McConnell as a leader in the midst of Trump criticism. Republicans are attacking Judge Jackson for defending the rights of the poor MORE (R-Ky.) Has tried to reject the political rhetoric surrounding this Supreme Court confirmation battle and even acknowledged that Jackson is qualified for the job.

“She is clearly a sharp lawyer with an impressive resume,” he said after meeting her.

The GOP leader sees Biden’s handling of inflation, the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the administration’s high ambitions for social spending as promising political goals and is not in the mood to lead a scorched earth campaign with personal attacks on a historically nominated.

He said the “Senate process should be dignified”, but also advised that it should also be “vigorous, exhaustive and meticulous.”

Hawley has a different set of priorities. He seeks to strengthen his national political profile and is not afraid to take positions that are not popular among the political mainstream or even his party’s mainstream. He showed this last year when he helped lead the opposition to the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Hawley tweeted last week that Jackson “has a pattern of letting child porn offenders get away with their horrific crimes, both as a judge and as a politician.”

His office on Monday provided The Hill with a list of seven cases in which she handed down sentences under or well below the federal guidelines for defendants who pleaded guilty to child pornography-related charges.

This has prompted angry backlash from the chairman of the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Memo: GOP seeks to make Jackson part of wider Biden midterm war Hawley says he wants to bring up child porn cases during Jackson hearing Kavanaugh fight casts long shadow over Jackson hearing MORE (D-Ill.).

“First, it’s not true, and second, you have to consider the source,” he said, alluding to Hawley’s objections to Biden’s election victory.

“This is a right-wing effort at the last minute. We have reviewed this woman’s record – this is the fourth time we have reviewed 600 cases, 12,000 pages of sentencing commission activity, and now he has come up with this revelation,” Durbin said, adding that the criticism “certainly challenges” the Republican promise. to keep a dignified process.

Jackson was previously confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis on three occasions: to serve on the U.S. sentencing commission; to serve in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; and to sit on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column characterized Hawley’s arguments as a “misleading attack” on Jackson’s record, giving him “three Pinocchios” or a “mostly false” rating.

Brian Fallon, CEO of Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group that strongly supports Jackson, accused Republicans of building conspiracy theories to derail her nomination.

“Republicans have gone from promising a dignified procedure to leveling Pizzagate-like attacks against Judge Jackson. Criticism has been so broadly rejected that anyone still pursuing this line of question at this point is only demeaning himself,” he said.

This leaves senators who do not in the confirmation hearings wonder how ugly the fight will be this week.

“McConnell must be concerned that Hawley and others may make Republicans look too extreme. He wants to present a more friendly view of the party leading up to the 2022 election, and he does not want people to come for strongly forward, “West added.

However, a Republican aide from the Senate said McConnell believes everything in her record, including her pattern of handing out convictions for child pornography offenses under the federal sentencing guidelines, is fair game for debate.

Speaking on the floor Monday, McConnell called the nominee “a likeable person” who has “reached impressive heights in the legal profession.”

He did not directly address her child pornography convictions, which fell under federal guidelines, but questioned her “empathy” for criminal defendants.

“Even when America is struggling with a historic wave of crime, the president has chosen a candidate whose own supporters say her work as a defense attorney in the U.S. sentencing commission will tip her sentence in favor of convicts,” he said.

A background document prepared by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that Jackson, as a law student at Harvard University, “advocates for a softer treatment of sex offenders.”

The document claimed that Jackson in a 1996 Harvard Law Review article suggested that it was incorrect to notify local communities that a person has been convicted of a sexual crime, and criticized court decisions punishing sex offenders. The document also highlighted seven child pornography cases in which Jackson, as a district judge, sentenced offenders to fewer months in prison than what government prosecutors recommended.

The document noted that in five of these cases, the offenses resulted in statutory mandatory minimum sentences, and Jackson gave the defendant the minimum sentence in three, while prosecutors requested sentences above the minimum sentence in all but one case.

Legal experts argue that judges often hand out judgments under the advisory guidelines in child pornography cases, pointing out that there is a debate in the legal community as to whether the guidelines are out of step with the easy sharing of pornographic images in a digital age.

Data collected by Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee shows that Jackson gave shorter sentences for distribution and possession of child pornography that were shorter than the national average.

Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, pointed out that when Jackson was on the U.S. sentencing commission, she was part of a two-part commission that expressed concern about how statutory mandatory minimum requirements work.

He explained that federal judges do not have the discretion to convict a defendant below a statutory minimum, but may deviate from advisory guidelines.

He said the advisory guidelines that Jackson has gone through in his sentencing decisions are “dysfunctional and unnecessarily serious.”

“It’s something the commission has said repeatedly, it’s something judges have said repeatedly, it’s something researchers have said repeatedly,” he said. “As we move into a digital and access to child pornography is so much easier … it no longer makes sense to say, ‘Well, if you have a lot of pictures than someone with fewer pictures’.”

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