WASHINGTON ― Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson denied going easy on sex offenders in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
“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, 51, told Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chairman of the panel.
Republicans have sought to portray Jackson as “soft on crime,” citing in part her past service on the U.S. Sentencing Commission and some of her rulings in cases involving child pornography and mandatory minimums. The main charge, launched by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), is that Jackson went easy on sex offenders, one that has been rebutted by several independent fact-checkers as “misleading” and a “distortion” of the facts.
Jackson on Tuesday expressed her disdain for sex offenders, including those who possess child pornography. She then went on to explain that sentencing guidelines Congress passed involving such cases are outdated in some cases because they were written before the availability of the internet, leading to disparities in sentences handed down to offenders.
“As it currently stands the way the law is written, the way that Congress has directed the sentencing commission appears to be not consistent with how these crimes are committed and therefore there’s extreme disparity,” Jackson said.
Durbin sought to preemptively rebut Hawley’s line of questioning, which isn’t expected until later on Tuesday, by noting that the cases Jackson was involved with that Hawley took issue with all resulted in incarceration.
“The notion that you look at this casually or with leniency … your record belies that,” Durbin said.
Jackson is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a post she was confirmed to last year with bipartisan support. Her nomination by President Joe Biden is historic: She would be the first Black woman and first public defender on the Supreme Court.
In her opening statement before the committee on Monday, Jackson vowed she would be an impartial justice on the high court if she is confirmed.
“I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath,” Jackson said.