Senate

Hawley says sentences in 10 child porn cases raise red flags on Supreme Court pick

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) say Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s rulings in nearly a dozen child pornography cases are raising serious concerns about her judicial philosophy, but the White House says the senator is using “cherry-picked” examples.  

Hawley shared his concerns on Twitter Wednesday evening and again with reporters after a series of votes on Thursday, pledging to ask Jackson at her confirmation hearing next to week to explain what he called lax sentencing in several child pornography cases.  

“She’s had 10 that I’ve seen that we’ve found and I haven’t found a single case where she’s sentenced — for child porn offenders — where she’s sentenced with the guidelines. Always below, and almost always below the government’s recommendations — in some cases dramatically below,” he said.

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. 

Hawley said the 10 cases are from Jackson’s tenure on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021, adding that they make a substantial portion of her sentencing workload over those years.  

“She’s had about, I think, 100 cases that went to trial and then to sentencing out of her 500 or so and then about 10 of them were child porn cases,” he said. “Given her total number of cases there’s actually quite a few of these.

“The pattern is pretty distinct and pretty troubling and you couple that with her views on the sentencing commission and getting rid of the existing mandatory-minimum for child porn and then what she’s written in law school, where she said sex offender registries may be unconstitutional, that our sex offender laws were written in a climate of fear and revenge,” he said.  

The White House pushed back Hawley’s criticisms, accusing him of relying on “cherry-picked elements of her record out of context.”  

“Judge Jackson is a proud mother of two whose nomination has been endorsed by leading law enforcement organizations, conservative judges, and survivors of crime. This is toxic and weakly-presented misinformation that relies on taking cherry-picked elements of her record out of context — and it buckles under the lightest scrutiny,” said White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates.

But other Republicans say Jackson can expect strong scrutiny over her sentencing record in child pornography cases next week, when she will answer questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’m sure it is one of many topics that will be examined at the hearing,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the committee. “I’m sure it will be discussed next week.”

Hawley first leveled his charges against Jackson as being soft on child predators in a tweet thread Wednesday evening.  

“Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker. She’s been advocating for it since law school. This goes beyond ‘soft on crime.’ I’m concerned that this a record that endangers our children,” he tweeted.

Hawley later told reporters that he didn’t discuss Jackson’s record on child pornography cases when he met with her last week because he wasn’t aware of it.

“I had just found out about it,” he said. “She has a long record.”  

The accusations appeared to catch some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee by surprise.  

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he needed to review Hawley’s claim’s more closely but added that he’s not worried they could derail Jackson’s nomination in the 50-50 Senate.

“I don’t know all the details. I’m not concerned about it,” he told reporters. “I haven’t seen what he’s put out.

“I want to see exactly what he is saying,” he added. “She’s been vetted, screened, reviewed for three nominations. I would be very, very skeptical about any claims of somehow sympathy for child predators.”

“I’m tempted to say ‘Seems kind of ridiculous,’ but my colleagues can say whatever they want,” he said. 

Tags biden administration Biden nominees Biden Supreme Court nominee Biden Supreme Court pick child porn Child pornography Child sexual abuse Josh Hawley Ketanji Brown Jackson Sex crimes Sex offender Ted Cruz

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