Senate

Jackson forcefully pushes back against GOP child porn sentencing attacks

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson opened the second day of her confirmation hearing Tuesday with a forceful defense of her record of sentencing child pornography offenders, pushing back against a recurring Republican attack line leveled against her.

Under questioning from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jackson was asked to address a claim by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Monday that her treatment of sentencing child sex offenders showed an “alarming pattern” of leniency. 

“As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” Jackson told Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jackson said that as a sentencing judge she puts great weight on victims’ perspective when addressing offenders. 

“I tell them about the adults who are former child sex abuse victims, tell me that they will never have a normal adult relationship because of this abuse. I tell them about the ones who say, ‘I went into prostitution, I fell into drugs because I was trying to suppress the hurt that was done to me as an as an infant.’ ”

“Almost every one of these sentences, when I look in the eyes of a defendant who’s weeping because I’m giving him a significant sentence, what I say to him is do you know that there is someone who has written to me and she has told me that she has developed agoraphobia — she cannot leave her house — because she thinks that everyone she meets will have seen her, will have seen her pictures on the internet, they’re out there forever, at the most vulnerable time of her life and so she’s paralyzed,” she added. “I tell that story to every child porn defendant as a part of my sentences, so that they understand what they have done.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) later on Tuesday was the first of the few GOP senators on the panel, that includes Hawley and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) who are expected to make the issue a major point in their questioning even as it has created some unease among Republicans wary of being seen as offering personal attacks against the first Black woman nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

Cruz displayed a chart of eight cases in which Jackson sentenced the defendants to an average of 47.2 percent less than what prosecutors asked for, which Jackson firmly pushed back on.

“A couple of observations: One is that your chart does not include all of the factors that Congress has told judges to consider, including the probation office’s recommendation in these cases,” Jackson responded, prompting Cruz to say the committee did not have those recommendations available for review.

Brett Samuels contributed.

Updated 3:50 p.m.

Tags Dick Durbin Josh Hawley Ketanji Brown Jackson Marsha Blackburn Supreme Court Ted Cruz

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video