President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, responded to senators who pressed her on giving light sentences to child pornography offenders at a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley drew attention to Jackson’s record on child pornography cases in a Twitter thread last week, making the issue a key line of Republican opposition to Jackson’s nomination.
“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 wrote, listing several cases in which he said Jackson gave child pornography offenders sentences below the recommended guidelines.
Jackson dismissed Hawley’s claims in an exchange with Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, saying that “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.”
She explained that Congress determines how judges are supposed to sentence and that judges must consider various aspects of an offense to determine an appropriate punishment within those guidelines. (RELATED: Senators Signal Three Issues That Will Define The Ketanji Brown Jackson Hearings)
“The statute says, ‘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,’” Jackson said.
She also emphasized the importance of gathering victims’ perspectives to inform sentencing decisions.
“For every defendant who comes before me and who suggests, as they often do, that they’re just a looker, that these crimes don’t really matter, they’ve collected these things on the internet and it’s fine, I tell them about the victim statements that have come in to me as a judge,” Jackson said. “I tell them about the adults, who were former child sex abuse victims, who tell me that they will never have a normal adult relationship because of this abuse.”
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