Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson forcefully defended her approach to sentencing amid Republican allegations hat she has been too lenient in sex offense cases involving minors, an exchange that provided the most tense and emotional moments of Tuesday's confirmation hearing. It was the first chance for Jackson, who served for nearly a decade as a federal trial judge, to rebut assertions that are part of a larger Republican strategy to paint Jackson as “soft on crime,” the Washington Post reports. The suggestion that Jackson had gone easy on sex offenders was leveled most vociferously by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). The White House suggested that his line of attack was intended to resonate with QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Jackson spoke of the graphic images that a judge would have to consider when meting out punishment and of the emotional toll that abuse victims suffer for decades. Jackson said that at every sentencing involving child pornography, she details to the offender the horrific repercussions of their act that can linger. “And then I impose a significant sentence and all of the additional restraints that are available in the law. These people are looking at 20, 30, 40 years of supervision. They can’t use their computers in a normal way for decades,” Jackson told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am imposing all of those constraints because I understand how significant, how damaging, how horrible this crime is.” Hawley spoke in highly personal terms in grilling Jackson on her thinking about child-pornography offenders. “I’ve got a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 16-month-old at home,” he told Jackson. “And I live in fear that they will be exposed to, let alone exploited, in this kind of material.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) appeared unmoved by the allegations from some of his conservative colleagues, whose comments have glossed over context like the fact that in some it was prosecutors who initially recommended sentences lower than the sentencing guidelines.