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Sen. Josh Hawley: Supreme Court nominee has 'alarming' record on child porn offenders

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. |

With Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court slated to begin next week, a senator on the influential U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is warning about her record on the Sentencing Commission and how it reflects her views on punishment for child pornography offenders.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will question Jackson in confirmation hearings next week, sent out a Twitter thread Wednesday expressing concerns about an “alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children.” He asserted that “Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and a policymaker.”

“She’s been advocating for it since law school,” he added. “This goes beyond ‘soft on crime.’ I’m concerned that this is a record that endangers our children.”

Hawley provided screenshots of some of Jackson’s commentary on “child porn offenders,” including a declaration that she had “[mistakenly] assumed that child pornography offenders are pedophiles.” Jackson suggested that there was “a category of nonpedophiles who obtain child pornography” that are “nonsexually motivated offenders.”

Jackson contended that the group of “nonpedophiles” who commit child pornography offenses do so because of “the challenge” or a desire to “use the technology.” She described this group of “nonpedophiles” as “very sophisticated technologically” and not “necessarily interested in the child pornography piece of it.”

Hawley also listed specific examples illustrating how Jackson “deviated from the federal sentencing guidelines in favor of child porn offenders.” In a case involving a sex offender who “had multiple images of child porn,” the sentencing guidelines called for a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Jackson gave the offender three months in prison.

Sentencing guidelines called for a prison sentence between eight and 10 years for a criminal with “thousands of images of child porn” who “also hoped to travel across state lines to abuse a 9-year-old girl.” Jackson gave the man a sentence of 57 months, less than five years. In another case, she sentenced a child pornographer who possessed “more than 600 images and videos and posted many on a public blog” to 60 months in prison, far short of the 151-188 months suggested in the guidelines.

In another case, Jackson sentenced a child pornographer who posted multiple images online to 60 months in prison, even though the recommended sentence was 70 to 87 months.

Another man who possessed more than 100 child pornography videos, including a video of his own 10-year-old daughter, received a 71-month sentence from Jackson as opposed to the recommended 97-121 months.

Jackson’s past comments in support of critical race theory, which Encyclopedia Brittanica defines as an “intellectual and social movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to express and exploit people of colour,” are also receiving renewed attention.

Christopher Rufo, an outspoken opponent of critical race theory, took to Twitter Thursday to share some of Jackson’s remarks about Derrick Bell, whom he described as “the father of critical race theory.” Jackson spoke about Bell when addressing students at the University of Michigan Law School for a Martin Luther King Day lecture in 2020.

“Ketanji Brown Jackson is a lifelong admirer of the father of critical race theory, Derrick Bell, who wrote that the Constitution was like ‘roach powder,’ that whites might commit ‘racial genocide,’ and that his motto was 'I live to harass white folks,'" he said. In her speech to the law school students, she praised his book Faces at the Bottom of the Well, written in the early 1990s, as influential to her upbringing.

“My parents had this book on their coffee table for many years, and I remember staring at the image on the cover when I was growing up; I found it difficult to reconcile the image of the person, who seemed to be smiling, with the depressing message that the title and subtitle conveyed,” she recalled. “I thought about this book cover again for the first time in 40 years when I started preparing for this speech, because, before the civil rights gains of the 1960s, black women were the quintessential faces at the bottom of the well of American society.”

Responding to her speech, Rufo insisted that “Jackson’s math doesn’t add up” because “She was born in 1970 and Faces at the Bottom of the Well wasn’t published until 1992, when she was 22 years old and a student at Harvard — during the exact timeframe that Derrick Bell was engaged in his nationally-publicized protest.” He maintained that the book’s publication date and her age make her “story that her parents had Faces at the Bottom of the Well — a key text of critical race theory on their coffee table when Jackson was growing up” false.

President Joe Biden nominated Jackson, who serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to become an associate justice on the Supreme Court last month. If confirmed, Jackson would become the first female African American Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. Jackson’s nomination comes ahead of long-serving Justice Stephen Breyer’s impending retirement.

Jackson’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on Monday, where the nominee, as well as the leading senators on the Judiciary Committee, will have the opportunity to make opening remarks. Senators from both parties will also question Jackson about her judicial record and legal philosophy before witnesses are called to testify for and against her confirmation.

After the hearings conclude, senators on the Judiciary Committee, which consists of an even split of Republicans and Democrats, will vote on whether to advance Jackson’s nomination to the full Senate. If the nomination makes it to the Senate floor, she must receive support from a majority of senators in order to secure a spot on the court. The Senate consists of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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