Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected claims from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and others that she supported light sentences for child sex offenders, Law & Crime reports.
Hawley accused Jackson, who previously served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, of issuing lighter sentences in child pornography cases than those requested by prosecutors.
"In every single child porn case for which we can find records, Judge Jackson deviated from the federal sentencing guidelines in favor of child porn offenders," Hawley tweeted last week, citing nine cases from Jackson’s time as a District Court judge.
Legal experts rejected Hawley’s claim.
"If and when we properly contextualize Judge Jackson's sentencing record in federal child porn cases, it looks pretty mainstream," wrote Doug Berman, a leading expert on sentencing law and policy at The Ohio State University School of Law.
"Federal judges nationwide typically sentence below the [child porn] guideline in roughly 2 out of 3 cases," he wrote, and "when deciding to go below the [child porn] guideline, typically impose sentences around 54 months below the calculated guideline minimum."
“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 said when asked about Hawley’s claim during her confirmation hearing.
“These are some of the most difficult cases that a judge has to deal with because we’re talking about pictures of sex abuse of children,” Jackson said. “We’re talking about graphic descriptions that judges have to read and consider when they decide how to sentence in these cases.”
Jackson rejected Hawley’s description of the sentencing guidelines.
“That statute doesn’t say ‘Look only at the guidelines and stop,'” Jackson said. “The statue doesn’t say ‘Impose the highest possible penalty for this sickening and egregious crime.’ The statute says [to] calculate the guidelines, but also look at various aspects of this offense and impose a sentence that is ‘sufficient but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment.'”
Hawley backed judges with similar records:
Hawley previously voted to confirm three judges who had similar records in child pornography cases as Jackson, according to ABC News.
He told the outlet he was unaware of the other judges’ records.
"If I had known about -- and I'm not sure which judges you are referring to -- but if there are judges who are soft on child porn offenders in a systematic kind of pattern, then that would be a big problem, and if I had known that at the time, then it would hurt my support," he said.