I’m becoming skeptical about the prospects for bipartisan criminal justice reform deals:
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin and the Biden White House on Thursday derided a new GOP attack on Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, centered on her handling of sex offenders.
“I don’t believe in it being taken seriously,” Durbin said in an interview about the charges leveled by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “I’m troubled by it because it’s so outrageous. It really tests the committee as to whether we’re going to be respectful in the way we treat this nominee.”
Durbin’s response — plus a heated reply from the White House — comes after Hawley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Jackson’s record on the U.S. Sentencing Commission and as a district court judge in a series of tweets Wednesday, going so far as to say “her record endangers children.” Hawley’s tweets offers a potential preview of Republicans’ questions next week, when Jackson’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to take place.
The Judiciary Committee chief defended Jackson’s record, noting that the panel approved her nomination three times with a bipartisan vote. He added that the cases Hawley highlighted were decided unanimously by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and suggested the Missouri Republican took the statements out of context.
“It isn’t as if she was an outlier in any respect, and the commission is balanced between Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals,” Durbin said. “She went along with the overwhelming majority of federal judges asking for this and the unanimous decision of the commission. And Hawley now thinks he’s discovered something.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates described Hawley’s tweets as “toxic and weakly-presented misinformation that relies on taking cherry-picked elements of her record out of context — and it buckles under the lightest scrutiny.” He also noted Jackson is “a proud mother of two whose nomination has been endorsed by leading law enforcement organizations, conservative judges, and survivors of crime.”
Hawley alleged that, in a series of criminal cases that came before Jackson during her eight years on the district court in Washington, she sentenced child pornography offenders to prison sentences below what federal sentencing guidelines recommended. For more than a decade, criminal justice reform advocates and many federal judges have complained publicly that — in part due to advances in technology — those guidelines are too harsh in cases involving only receipt or sharing of child pornography materials.
TFW people try to sell you on a senator being a New Populist Kind of Republican and he turns out to be Ted Cruz for people who think Ted Cruz needs to be smarmier.
At least Hawley finally got the response he deserved:
Later in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki escalated the rhetorical tussle by recalling Hawley’s 2017 hesitance to reveal whether he would vote for Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore, who had romantically pursued teenage girls.
“I’m not sure that someone who refused to tell people whether or not he would vote for Roy Moore is an effective and credible messenger on this,” Psaki told reporters.