Pledge to 'stay in my lane,' Jackson defends record

WASHINGTON — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson pushed back against Republican attacks on her case on Tuesday, defending her work representing ...


WASHINGTON — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson pushed back against Republican attacks on her case on Tuesday, defending her work representing terrorist inmates and convicting child sex offenders as she portrayed herself as a staunch proponent of judicial restraint fit to be confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court.

Under intense questioning from senators during a day-long hearing on her nomination, Judge Jackson repeatedly said she understood the narrow role judges play in the U.S. government and refused to be dragged into political battles such as adding seats to the Supreme Court.

“I am fully aware that as a judge in our system, I have limited power and I try in any case to stay in my lane,” she said, a formulation that she repeated. multiple times for hours of questioning in what Senator Richard J Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called a “trial by ordeal.”

“I don’t think anyone can look at my record and say it points one way or another, supports one view or another,” she told senators.

While Republicans were initially wary of the optics of attacking the first black woman to run for the Supreme Court, some GOP members of the panel — especially those with presidential ambitions — attacked the case. of Judge Jackson in a series of tense exchanges during which they implied that she was soft on crime, particularly when it came to child sexual abuse, and an extremist on issues of race.

Seeing an opening to score political points if not block his confirmation, they tackled midterm campaign themes that became rallying cries for conservatives and their far-right base, often returning to the topic of paedophilia, the central false allegation against Democrats that underpins the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory.

Referring to his writings on and condemnation of child sex offenders, Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and classmate of Judge Jackson at Harvard Law School, said he saw “a record of activism and advocacy around sexual predators, which goes back decades and is concerning.

Democrats, independent analysts and some conservatives have found Republican attacks on his record against child sex offenders to be distorted and misleading.

Mr Durbin sought to preempt the matter on Tuesday, opening the hearing by asking Judge Jackson what crossed his mind on Monday as she sat and listened, with her family watching, while a crowd of Republicans accused him of having pampered sex offenders in his decisions and sentencing recommendations. She used the moment to deliver an emphatic response that telegraphed some of her anger at these attacks.

“As a mother and a judge who had to deal with these cases, I thought nothing could be further from the truth,” Judge Jackson replied. “These are some of the toughest cases a judge has to deal with because we’re talking about child sexual abuse.”

And she gave a long explanation of how she arrived at sentences in such cases.

“I am imposing a strict sentence and all additional restraints provided by law,” Judge Jackson said. “I impose all these constraints because I understand how important, damaging and horrible this crime is.”

But the issue resurfaced later on Tuesday, when Sen. Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, asked her about her decision to sentence an 18-year-old defendant to three months in prison for possessing sexual abuse images on children. Mr Hawley, who led the charge to attack Judge Jackson’s case on sentencing these offenders, repeatedly asked her why she gave the man a shorter sentence than the recommended guidelines.

Judge Jackson, sounding exasperated, argued that Congress had required judges to consider various factors, including the age of the defendant, and work with the probation office when sentencing defendants. And she insisted that a lighter sentence did not mean condoning child sexual abuse.

“As a judge who is a mother and has been instructed to actually review the evidence, the evidence that you would not describe in good company, the evidence that you point to, discuss, address in this context, is evidence that I saw it in my role as a judge,” she said. “It’s heinous. It’s heinous. It’s blatant.

It was a historic and controversial day for Judge Jackson, who was uniformly praised by Democrats for her life story, her credentials, her court record and even her ability to maintain a calm demeanor under the onslaught of Republicans.

“It’s a tough place and you handle it very well,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and veteran of multiple court confrontations.

Democrats sought to make his experience as a federal public defender an asset to a judge, giving him an understanding of both sides of the system, even as Republicans worked to frame him as a suspect.

“Those of us who spend time in courtrooms know that you need to have both competent prosecutors and defenders,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

His supporters also pointed to the strong support Judge Jackson received from law enforcement groups and noted that his family members were police officers, a fact that Judge Jackson said was a source of pride.

“As someone who has had family members on patrol and in the line of fire, I care deeply about public safety,” she said. “I know what it’s like to have loved ones leave to protect and serve and the fear of not knowing whether or not they’ll come home because of crime in the community.”

At the same time, she said she also recognizes that criminal defense attorneys serve an important function in ensuring that constitutional rights are protected.

“Our system is exemplary around the world precisely because we ensure that those accused of crimes are treated fairly,” she said. “It’s very important to me in that capacity, as a lawyer and as a citizen.”

But her work on behalf of terrorist detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has drawn fire from Republicans who have suggested she has gone too far in her efforts to free some of them. They cited legal briefs she co-signed which they said called President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “war criminals” because some detainees were tortured at the following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“Why would you do something like that?” asked Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “It seems so out of place.”

Judge Jackson said she did not recall that reference and had no intention of disparaging the Secretary of Defense or the President. Later in the hearing, Mr. Durbin explained that the legal record at issue followed what was essentially a template that pro bono attorneys across the country used at the time to present arguments and claims for relief against the Bush administration, which declared their actions to be “war crimes.”

“To be clear, at no time did you call President Bush or Secretary Rumsfeld a ‘war criminal’?”

“No, senator,” replied Judge Jackson.

In a more heated exchange, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, also blamed him for trying to win freedom for someone who could come back to threaten the security of the United States.

“As long as they are dangerous, I hope they die in prison there,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me at all that they die in prison.”

The four detainees Judge Jackson represented for a time were eventually repatriated – three to Afghanistan and one to Saudi Arabia. None have ever been tried or convicted of a crime.

One of the most heated exchanges of the day took place with Mr. Cruz, who pressed Judge Jackson not only on her conviction of child sex offenders, but also on her adherence to critical race theory, a field of legal study that examines how racism can be embedded in laws and institutions, which has been appropriated by the right as a way to derogatorily portray any discussion of structural racism.

Mr. Cruz asked her if she had reviewed the books taught at Georgetown Day School, a private Washington school of which she sits on the board, where he said young children learn theory.

It was the first time after hours of questioning that Judge Jackson showed irritation; she stopped, sighing heavily, before answering Mr. Cruz.

“I haven’t reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas,” Judge Jackson replied. “They do not appear in my work as a judge, which I am, respectfully, here to address.”

She said she did not believe “a child should feel like they are racist, or that they are not valued, or that they are inferior to, that they are victims, that they are he is an oppressor. I don’t believe in any of this. »

Earlier in the day, Mr Graham also sought to link Judge Jackson to progressive activists who support her nomination and also support expanding the size of the court, among other changes.

“Have you noticed people on the left cheering you on?” He asked.

“A lot of people were cheering me on,” Judge Jackson replied.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Pledge to 'stay in my lane,' Jackson defends record
Pledge to 'stay in my lane,' Jackson defends record
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