Senate

Hawley says he’ll bring child porn cases up during Jackson hearing

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gives an opening statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday, March 21, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Monday that he will raise Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s rulings in cases related to child pornography during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s two days of questions during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

“I think there’s a lot to talk about there and I look forward to talking about it,” Hawley said.

Hawley first raised the issue during a string of tweets last week.

“I’ve been researching the record of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, reading her opinions, articles, interviews & speeches. I’ve noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children,” Hawley wrote as part of the tweet thread.

Hawley on Monday pointed to cases that he plans to ask Jackson about and said that he was raising the issues in advance because he didn’t want to “spring them” on her.

“I think it’s important that we hear from Jackson and we’ll have a chance to,” Hawley said.

“I’m not interested in trying to play ‘gotcha.’ I’m interested in her answers,” he added.

Hawley, who is viewed as having presidential ambitions, isn’t expected to be the only GOP senator to raise the issue during the hearings

“You also have a consistent pattern of giving child-porn offenders light sentences. On average, you sentence child-porn defendants to over five years below the minimum sentence recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) will say, according to excerpts from her office.

The line of attack has sparked fierce pushback from both Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the White House.

“What he has done has been discredited already by The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN and a writer from the National [Review],” Durbin said on Monday.

“So in my mind we know that there’s no substance behind it. …There’s a big story to be told that Hawley is leaving out,” Durbin added.

Multiple Democratic senators have pointed to a National Review article written by Andrew McCarthy, a contributor to the magazine, who called Hawley’s accusations “meritless to the point of demagoguery.”

A Washington Post fact-check, which Hawley has contested, gave the senator’s claims “three pinocchios,” while an AP fact-check that included Hawley as well as other GOP criticism said that Republicans were twisting Jackson’s records.

“Judge Jackson has yet to address her alarming record on child porn offenders. But rather than ask her questions, the Washington Post is regurgitating White House talking points,” Hawley said in a statement in response to the Washington Post fact-check.

Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the White House, said last week that “overwhelming majority of her cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. Probation recommended.”

“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,” he added.

–Updated at 3:09 p.m.

Tags Dick Durbin Josh Hawley Ketanji Brown Jackson Marsha Blackburn nomination hearings Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court

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