Psaki Blasts ‘Disingenuous Attacks’ Against Ketanji Brown Jackson Over Sex-Related Cases

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  • Psaki blasted Sen. Hawley’s attempts to criticize Ketanji Brown Jackson’s sentencing record in sex-related cases.
  • The White House official called the GOP attacks “a last-ditch, eve-of-hearing desperation attack.”
  • Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin also came to Brown’s defense, praising her judicial record.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday rejected what she described as “disingenuous attacks” on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson from Republicans regarding her rulings in a number of child pornography-related cases, just days before the start of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

During her press briefing, Psaki was asked about Sen. Josh Hawley’s line of criticism into Brown’s record. The Missouri Republican charged on Twitter that President Joe Biden’s judicial nominee “has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker.”

Psaki immediately pushed back against Hawley’s accusation, blasting Republicans for what she described as an evolving series of attacks that were rooted in “desperation.”

“After weeks of trying hard to find some way to attack Judge Jackson — first saying she was an affirmative action pick, then saying she was the product of dark money, then saying she would be suspect because she was a public defender — a group of far-right Republican senators … have launched a last-ditch, eve-of-hearing desperation attack on her record on sentencing in sexual offense cases,” she said.

She continued: “The facts are that in the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes broadly, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or US probation recommended. And so this attack that we’ve seen over the last couple of days relies on factual inaccuracies and taking Judge Jackson’s record wildly out of context.”

Hawley said that he would ask Jackson about her previous sentencing rulings “for sure,” while adding that “all the offices” of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have reached out regarding the issue.

Psaki, in defense of Jackson, stressed the gravity of the issue and asked that it not be reduced to baseless charges.

“We hope that those who are taking this process seriously, or state that they are taking this process seriously, will also look to the facts and not disingenuous attacks,” she said. 

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates on Thursday labeled the GOP attacks 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.”

Bates also highlighted Jackson’s endorsement by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose leader praised “her dedication to ensuring that our communities are safe and that the interests of justice are served” and said that her family’s ties to law enforcement “has given her a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, the challenges and complexities confronting the policing profession.”

In addition, Jackson is a wife and the mother of two children.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin on Thursday criticized any suggestion that Jackson has sympathized with child predators.

“I don’t believe in it being taken seriously,” the Illinois Democrat told Politico of the charges. “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 also stated that the cases Hawley cited were decided unanimously by the US Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that develops sentencing guidelines for the federal courts.

“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.”

Jackson was tapped by Biden in February to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, and if confirmed, she will become the first Black woman in US history to sit on the high court. She is expected to receive the votes of all 50 Democratic and Democratic-aligned senators in the evenly-divided Senate, with party leaders hoping to peel off several Republicans to achieve a bipartisan vote.

The most likely sources of potential GOP support for Jackson might come from Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who both voted for Jackson’s confirmation to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year.

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