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Jackson pushes back at GOP critics, defends judicial record – Press Telegram

By MARY CLARE JALONICK and MARK SHERMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) – Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson has strongly defended her case as a judge on Tuesday, dismissing Republican claims that she was soft on the crime and saying she would rule as an “independent lawyer” if confirmed as the first black woman in high court.

In a day-and-night marathon of interrogations that lasted more than 13 hours, Republicans aggressively pressured Jackson on the sentences he handed down to sex offenders in his nine years as federal judge, his defense on behalf of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. his defense. thoughts on the critical theory of race and even its religious views. At one point, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas read children’s books that he said were taught at his teenage daughter’s school.

Several Republican senators criticized her in her child pornography judgments, arguing that they were milder than recommended by federal guidelines. She said she based the sentences on many factors, not just guidelines, and said some of the cases gave her nightmares.

Could their decisions endanger children? “As a mother and judge,” she said, “nothing could be further from the truth.”

In what Judicial Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Described as “a trial by trial,” Jackson tried to address GOP concerns and also highlight the empathic style on the bench that she frequently described. Republicans on the committee, several of whom have their eyes set on the presidency, have tried to brand her – and Democrats in general – as soft on crime, an emerging issue in the Republican Party’s midterm election campaigns.

Jackson told the committee that his brother and two uncles served as police officers and that “crime and the effect on the community, and the need to enforce the law, are not abstract concepts or political slogans for me.”

Tuesday’s hearing was the first of two days of questioning after Jackson and the 22 panel members gave initial statements on Monday. On Thursday, the committee will hear from legal experts ahead of a possible vote to move his candidacy to the Senate.

President Joe Biden elected Jackson in February, fulfilling his campaign commitment to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history. She would take the seat of Judge Stephen Breyer, who announced in January that she would retire after 28 years in court. Jackson would be the third black justice, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman.

Except for unexpected events, Democrats who control the Senate by the narrowest of margins are expected to conclude Jackson’s confirmation before Easter, though Breyer will not leave until the current session ends this summer.

She said the potential to be the first black woman on the track is “extremely significant” and that she had received many letters from young girls. Jackson, who grew up in Miami, said he did not have to attend racially segregated public schools like his own parents did, “and the fact that we have come this far was a testament to the hope and promise of this country.”

His appointment also “supports public confidence in the judiciary,” Jackson said.

Democrats have been full of praise for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, noting that she would not only be the first black woman but also the court’s first public defender, and the first with experience representing indigent criminal defendants since Judge Marshall.

Republicans also praised that experience, but also questioned it, focusing especially on the work he did about 15 years ago representing Guantanamo detainees. Jackson said public defenders do not choose their clients and are “defending the constitutional value of representation.” She said she continued to represent a client in private practice because her company was assigned the case to her.

Picking up a thread of discussion started by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and expanded by the Republican National Committee in fundraising emails, Cruz questioned Jackson about his convictions of child pornographers, at one point he pulled out a large poster and surrounded sentences that said which seemed atrocious to him. .

Jackson defended his decisions, saying he took into account not only the sentencing guidelines, but also the stories of the victims, the nature of the crimes, and the stories of the defendants.

“A judge is not playing a numbers game,” he said. “A judge is analyzing all these different factors.”

The White House rejected the criticism as “toxic and poorly presented misinformation.” And convictions expert Douglas Berman, an Ohio law professor, wrote in his blog that while Jackson’s history shows he is skeptical about the range of prison sentences recommended for child pornography, “so have they. the prosecutors in most of their cases and they have been, they are district judges all over the country. “

Cruz, Hawley and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton are potential candidates for the 2024 presidency, and their rounds of interrogations have been some of the most combative, hitting topics that are popular with the Republican base. Cruz asked him about the critical theory of race, a premise that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in the country’s institutions. Jackson said the idea does not appear in his work as a judge, and that “it would not be something he had trusted” if confirmed.

The Texas senator also asked her about her daughter’s private school in Washington, where she is on the board, and pulled out a book called “Anti-Racist Baby,” which she said was taught to younger children at school.

“Do you agree with this book that children are taught that babies are racist?” Cruz asked.

Visibly annoyed, Jackson paused. She said no child should feel that they are racists, victims or oppressors. “I don’t believe in any of that,” he said.

Cotton asked if there should be more police or less, a question she refused to answer, and asked her about the drug conviction.

Jackson also dared to ask questions from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voted in favor of her confirmation as an appeals judge last year, but openly expressed frustration after President Joe Biden chose her over a Carolina judge. of the South. Graham asked him about his religion and how often he went to church, angrily pointing out that what he said was an unfair critique of justice Catholicism by Amy Coney Barrett before her confirmation in 2020.

Jackson, who thanked God in his opening statement and said that faith “sustains me at this time,” responded that he is a Protestant. But she said she refuses to talk about her faith in detail because “I want to keep in mind the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate my personal opinions.”

Asked about the abortion, Jackson readily accepted the comments that Conservative judges Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh made when they were pending confirmation. “Roe and Casey are the Supreme Court’s established law on the right to terminate a woman’s pregnancy. They set a framework that the court reaffirmed,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s answers ignored a key point: the court is now weighing whether to overturn those cases that claim the national right to abortion.

Near the end of the day, Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican for La., Asked Jackson when life begins. She told him she didn’t know it and added, without giving further details: “I have a religious view that I set aside when I’m going to decide on the cases.”

The White House said Tuesday that Biden had seen part of the hearings and was proud of Jackson’s “grace and dignity.”

The president was shocked by the way she “quickly dismantled conspiracy theories presented in bad faith,” said White House Undersecretary Chris Meagher.

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Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Lisa Mascaro, Josh Boak, Colleen Long and Kevin Freking in Washington and Aaron Morrison in New York contributed to this report.

Jackson pushes back at GOP critics, defends judicial record – Press Telegram Source link Jackson pushes back at GOP critics, defends judicial record – Press Telegram

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