Record on Sex Crimes

Biden’s SCOTUS Pick and Record on Sex Crimes

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) slammed Joe Biden‘s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her lenient treatment of sex offenders.

Hawley, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued in a lengthy Twitter thread that Jackson’s record as a policymaker and a judge shows an “alarming pattern” of letting sex criminals off the hook.

The record that Hawley is referencing even includes reducing sentences for child pornography offenders and questioning whether sex offenders should be forced to enroll in publicly accessible registries.

“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,” the senator tweeted on March 16th. “She’s been advocating for it since law school. This goes beyond ‘soft on crime.’ I’m concerned that this [is] a record that endangers our children.”

Hawley’s thread comes as the GOP’s lines of attack against Judge Jackson are beginning to take shape. While Republicans are not actively working together on a single message against Jackson’s confirmation, the nationwide spike in violent crime is expected to play a central role in their opposition. Hawley’s argument is a natural complement to that theme.

According to reporting by the Washington Free Beacon:

As a law student at Harvard, Jackson wrote a student note that argued for a legal framework that would leave certain sex offender penalties, such as registry enrollment or civil commitment, exposed to constitutional challenges. And she noted that a “climate of fear, hatred, and revenge” is associated with the release of sex offenders from prison.

Hawley also said Jackson routinely gave child pornography defendants reduced sentences as a judge on the Washington, D.C., federal trial court.

In a representative case, U.S. v. Sears, the defendant was convicted of possessing over 100 child porn videos and sending lewd pictures of his own daughter, a minor. The sentencing guidelines call for a 97- to 121-month sentence. Jackson gave him 71 months, or just under six years, according to Hawley. In another case, U.S. v. Chazin, the defendant possessed about 50 child porn files and received a 28-month sentence from Jackson. The sentencing guidelines call for 78 to 97 months.

GOP lawmakers are pushing to obtain records from Jackson’s time on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which could provide more details on if and how she pushed for changes in sex offender sentencing.

The Sentencing Commission is a bipartisan body that sets sentencing practices for the federal courts. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said lawmakers have been given open source materials, such as hearing transcripts or guidelines volumes, but have not received internal documents such as emails and memos. Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Judge Jackson’s service on the sentencing commission is an important part of her experience, so her records there must be part of a thorough review. This request falls squarely within the committee’s normal practices,” Grassley said at a hearing on March 10th.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who is retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s brother, is the acting chairman of the Sentencing Commission.


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