Briefline

Buck, Boebert call for investigation into child porn sentencing record of Supreme Court nominee Jackson

By: - March 21, 2022 5:27 pm

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) questions U.S. Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to scrutinize Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s sentencing record for child pornography offenders as part of her confirmation process to the U.S. Supreme Court, though there is little evidence that Jackson’s judicial actions are out of the norm.

“Dating back more than a decade, to her time as Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, it appears she has exhibited a profoundly troubling pattern of leniency towards some of the most disturbing crimes in our society. Incredibly, for every child pornography case in which Judge Jackson has ruled and for which records are available, she deviated from federal sentencing guidelines in favor of the offenders,” reads a letter Buck sent Sunday to Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the chairman of the committee, and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee’s ranking member.

The letter has 18 other signatures from members of Congress, including Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

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It highlights three cases where Jackson gave shorter sentences to offenders than the sentencing guidelines.

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“Judge Jackson’s pattern and practice of leniency on sentencing for child sex crimes is deeply troubling. Her record of special empathy towards criminals is the fulfillment of Democrats’ soft-on-crime, defund the police movement that has caused a spike in crime across the nation,” Buck said in a statement.

The letter’s signatories want the committee, which is responsible for conducting the hearings for Jackson’s nomination to the country’s highest court, to “undertake a full review and investigation of all documents and decisions in this area,” including from when Jackson served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014.

Experts, however, have already debunked this claim on Jackson’s judicial record following similar comments from Sen. Josh Hawkey, R-Mo.

“If and when we properly contextualize Judge Jackson’s sentencing record in federal child porn cases, it looks pretty mainstream,” Doug Berman, an expert on sentencing law and professor at The Ohio State University School of Law, wrote in a March 17 blog post.

He wrote that federal judges typically sentence below the child pornography guideline in two out of three cases, and that “federal judges nationwide, when deciding to go below the (child pornography) guideline, typically impose sentences around 54 months below the calculated guideline minimum,” according to a June 2021 U.S. Sentencing Commission report on the topic.

Additionally, Berman wrote that in nine cases circulated among Republican senators about this issue, five involved prosecution that advocated for lesser sentences and three involved prosecution that argued for the guideline minimum.

Democrats have also defended Jackson’s record.

“In the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes broadly, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation recommended,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a March 18 press briefing.

Jackson underwent the first day of a four-day confirmation hearing on Monday. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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