The Constitution vests the president with the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I do not have a vote on President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, but I believe the Senate should not vote to confirm her.
My objections to this nomination arise from aspects of Judge Jackson’s legal background as well as some of her Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.
Most troubling is her record on sentencing criminals convicted of sex offenses involving children. Her statements related to this topic are also concerning. These offenses are extremely damaging to the children affected.
As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, I was the father of Virginia’s Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators. This program requires anyone who was convicted of a sexual offense to take a scientifically approved test screening the offender’s future danger to the public.
Judge Jackson has consistently opted to treat these offenders more leniently than called for by federal sentencing guidelines and on multiple occasions acted as if viewing sexual, even violent, imagery of pre-pubescent children does not demand significant concern and consequences.
As a judge, she put beliefs about reduced sentences for child sex predators into practice.
For example, in United States v. Hawkins, Judge Jackson sentenced an offender over 18 with multiple images of child pornography depicting pre-pubescent boys, including a video of a rape. The guidelines called for a sentence of up to ten years; Judge Jackson gave him three months. He was later found to be engaged in conduct that was highly likely to lead to reoffending and sentenced to a halfway house.
The Washington Post interviewed the offender in this case, who said, “I wasn’t very happy that she gave me three months, though, after reflection when I was in jail, I was hearing from other people who said it was their first time arrested and they got five years, six years.”
In United States v. Cooper, the offender had more than 600 images and videos, including some depicting torture, and posted many of them on a public blog. Judge Jackson opted for a 60-month sentence, the lowest allowed by law, when guidelines called for 151-188 months.
In United States v. Sears, Judge Jackson meted out a 71-month sentence in a case where the offender distributed more than 102 child pornography videos and sent lewd pictures of his own 10-year-old daughter. The guidelines in that case called for 97-121 months in prison.
Judge Jackson’s record includes more such cases, including one which the White House omitted when turning over documents to Senate Judiciary Republicans. Overall, she imposed an average sentence of 29.3 months for possession of child pornography, 57% less than the national average of 68 months. For distribution of child pornography, her average sentence of 71.9 months was 47% lower than the national average of 135 months.
I fear that she does not appreciate the gravity of these types of offenses, which is concerning for someone poised to sit on the highest court in the land. Her responses to questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee did not satisfy my objections to her record.
I am concerned about other aspects of Judge Jackson’s record and testimony.
As a district judge, she blocked nationwide the Trump Administration’s policy of expedited removal of illegal immigrants, saying the Administration had not considered the disruption it would cause to illegal immigrants.
Under questioning by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), she declined to define the word “woman,” saying that she was not a biologist.
I am not surprised that President Biden nominated to the Supreme Court someone whose views on the law differ from my own, but this nominee appears poised to rule in ways that would prioritize advancing a progressive agenda, not performing the judiciary’s duty under the Constitution to interpret the laws as written. Judge Jackson’s nomination should not be approved by the Senate.
For questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405, Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671, my Washington office at (202) 225-3861, or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.