Republicans are intensifying their attacks on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson after weeks of publicly reserving judgment on President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, ahead of historic hearings on the first Black woman to be put forward as a justice, reports The New York Times.
Republican leaders, wary of engaging in a potentially racially charged spectacle that could prompt a political backlash, have promised a more dignified review of the latest Supreme Court candidate, after a series of bitter clashes over the court. But in recent days, with the approach of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on her nomination that begin on Monday, their tone has shifted.
Last week, Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who sits on the panel and will question Judge Jackson, claimed his review of her judicial record had determined that she had been lenient in sentencing some sex offenders and those convicted of possessing child pornography. He also suggested that, as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission, she worked to reduce penalties for those caught with child pornography. A detailed background paper prepared for the Judiciary Committee made a similar case.
At the same time, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, has doubled down on his suggestion that Judge Jackson’s experience as a public defender could influence her view of the law and lead her to favor criminal defendants.
“Her supporters look at her résumé and deduce a special empathy for criminals,” Mr. McConnell said in a lengthy floor speech in which he argued that her work on behalf of the accused was a blot on her record. “I guess that means that government prosecutors and innocent crime victims start each trial at a disadvantage.”
The increasingly hostile critiques of Judge Jackson suggest that her confirmation hearings might not be the sober, drama-free proceeding that many had anticipated when she was nominated to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who has announced he will retire at the end of the court’s current term this summer.
Her confirmation would not change the ideological composition of the court, which is tilted 6-3 toward conservatives. And Judge Jackson has previously been confirmed three times by the Senate for two judgeships and a spot on the sentencing commission. Nothing surfaced on those occasions to impede her approval. Republicans concede she has the legal experience and educational qualifications for the lifetime position.
Mr. Hawley, who is regarded as a potential Republican presidential contender and has not voted for a single Biden administration judicial nominee, was never considered a likely supporter of Judge Jackson. Still, his detailed takedown of her record on sex crimes has generated concern among Democrats, who worry it could deter some Republicans who are considering supporting her, or even rattle some senators in their own party, all of whom will likely be needed to win confirmation.
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