White House pushes back on ‘disingenuous attacks’ against Jackson

The White House on Friday shot back at what it called “disingenuous attacks” from Republicans against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson focusing on her rulings in nearly a dozen child pornography cases ahead of her hearing next week.

“After weeks of trying hard to find some way to attack Judge Jackson — first saying she was an affirmative action pick, then saying she was the product of dark money, then saying she would be suspect because she was a public defender — a group of far-right Republican senators … have launched a last-ditch, eve-of-hearing desperation attack on her record on sentencing in sexual offense cases,” press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing with reporters.

Psaki was asked specifically about criticism from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who said a pattern of what he called lax sentencing in several child pornography cases has raised red flags about her nomination. Hawley cited 10 cases where Jackson sentenced child pornography offenders to sentences more lenient than federal guidelines.

Hawley said “for sure” he would press Jackson about this part of her judicial record and that “all the offices” of Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been in touch on the issue. 

Psaki said the specific attack on Jackson “relies on factual inaccuracies and taking Judge Jackson’s record wildly out of context.”

She said Jackson has typically sentenced defendants consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation recommended in the majority of cases involving child sex crimes broadly. 

“We hope that those who are taking this process seriously, or state that they are taking this process seriously, will also look to the facts and not disingenuous attacks,” Psaki said.

In a nod to the likely focus on that line of questioning during next week’s hearing, Psaki said White House officials will be watching and “I’m sure we’ll be responding to the inevitable doses of misinformation that travel out as well.” 

Jackson will face questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, where Republicans like Hawley, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are expected to grill the judge on her record.

With the Senate split evenly between parties, Jackson will need the support of all 50 Democrats and independents or the backing of some Republicans to become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Josh Hawley Ketanji Brown Jackson Mike Lee Supreme Court confirmation hearing Ted Cruz

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