OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Senate Republicans are accusing President Joe Biden’s White House of allegedly “withholding” information about Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record of giving lenient sentences in child pornography cases.
“When we first highlighted her record on child porn cases, the White House leaked information to their friends in the media and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said, according to Fox News.
“They hid it from the public despite knowing Judge Jackson gives lenient sentences to criminals. The White House is still refusing to be transparent about Judge Jackson’s record,” he said.
Jackson was the judge in the case of U.S. v. Cane, which involved “over 6,500 files depicting children appearing to be of elementary, middle and high school ages, engaged in sexual acts or posing sexually,” Fox News reported.
“This is a cover-up by the Biden White House and Senate Democrats,” conservative Article III Project founder Mike Davis said. “They’re covering up her record. They intentionally omitted this case from less than a year ago because it did not fit their political narrative.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates disputed that.
“This case, in which Judge Jackson sentenced the defendant to the term of imprisonment recommended by the government, proves to an even greater extent than in the large majority of her decisions involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were either consistent with or above what the government or the U.S. Probation Office recommended,” he said.
“The Cane case further undermines smears that a small number of Republican Senators have made – and which moderates members in both parties have rejected,” Bates added.
Fox News quoted what it said was a Republican Judiciary Committee aide as saying that the sentencing transcript arrived after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was over.
“Clearly, the White House either didn’t thoroughly vet the nominee, or were aware of the record and … intentionally left it out in hopes that the nominee would be confirmed before the full record could be uncovered and reviewed,” the aide said.
“Not only does this case, which Judge Jackson left off her list of child abuse cases, undercut her argument that she followed the probation office’s recommended sentences, but it also underscores the perils of moving too quickly in the vetting process,” the aide said.
The aide said that available information shows Jackson went against what the probation office wanted.
“The transcripts—the only public material to address sentencing in this case—confirm that the probation office recommended a longer sentence than the minimum term imposed by Judge Jackson,” the aide said. “They also reveal the government’s arguments for enhancing the penalty, which suggests interest in a sentence longer than the term Judge Jackson handed out.”
“The White House is pointing to a sealed document to support their unverified claim about a case that was mysteriously excluded from information they provided to Democrats, but not Republicans ahead of Judge Jackson’s hearing. It’s clear from the sentencing transcript that the probation office, which Judge Jackson repeatedly referenced to justify her sentences, wanted a longer sentence in this case,” the aide said. “Moreover, Judge Jackson even pointed to a case … where she imposed the shortest possible sentence despite the prosecutor’s higher recommendation, to justify her sentence in this case.”
“Jackson did this despite the fact that the probation officer at the sentencing hearing urged her to take those ‘sadistic and masochistic’ videos and photos into account in her final sentence. She had authority to do so even if they weren’t included in the ‘statement of offense,’ the probation officer said,” according to the Fox News report.
Jackson said she had “policy disagreements with the guidelines concerning the offense level enhancements for use of computer and number of images.”
“A computer is at work with respect to nearly all distribution offenses today, and it is typically very easy to receive and possess and distribute child pornography electronically such that the mere number of images and the fact that you used an electronic medium are not ordinarily in themselves indicative of an especially heinous or egregious offense,” Jackson said.