Four GOP senators who should return to law school

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Democrats Hope GOP Overhanded in Jackson Hearings Russian Ambassador Files Lawsuit Against Italian Newspaper Over Story Suggesting Putin’s Death Four GOP Senators Set to Return to law school MORE (RS.C.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPictures of the week: Ketanji Brown Jackson, cherry blossoms and Oscar statues (R-Texas), Josh HaleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe memo: Democrats hope GOP overplayed hand in Jackson hearings Four GOP senators set to return to Manchin Law School will back Jackson for Supreme Court MORE (R-Mo.) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonFour GOP senators who should return to law school Biden hands over GOP midterms Five of the most memorable moments from Jackson’s confirmation hearings MORE (R-Ark.) trampled on the judge’s case Ketanji Brown JacksonKetanji Brown JacksonOn the Money – Biden’s Economic Endorsement Falls Deeper Sasse to Vote No on Jackson’s Supreme Court Nomination Pics of the Week: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Cherry Blossoms and Oscar Statues MORE in week-long confirmation hearings to assess whether the entire Senate should advise and consent to his momentous nomination to the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would replace the outgoing Liberal Justice Stephane BreyerStephen BreyerFour GOP senators set to return to law school The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden turns up the heat on Russia Ex-Georgetown coach talks top tennis players on Supreme Court MORE and becoming the first African-American woman to serve on the Court in its 233-year history.

in mass Republican opposition to his nomination would be “escalation», and the confirmation, although probable, is not assured. Judge Jackson’s nomination would be particularly significant for Republicans. Far-right conservative justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasDefense & National Security — Russia’s tenuous grip slips McConnell, McCarthy defends Justice Thomas in ethics review Supreme Court restores Pentagon authority over deployment of unvaccinated SEALs MORE is 73 years old. With his recent hospitalization and possible retirement, Jackson’s nomination could lead to the restoration of a four-to-four liberal-conservative stalemate with Chief Justice John Roberts voting decisively on the thorny ideological issues that come before him. the Court: homosexuals, guns and God, as well as women’s reproductive rights and criminal justice.

Hawley’s attacks in particular were sharp and unprincipled. The centerpiece of Hawley’s objection appears to be Judge Jackson’s conviction record as a district judge in cases involving child pornography.

In a 2013 case, Jackson sentenced a 19-year-old offender to three months in prison followed by six years of supervised release. Defendant Wesley Hawkins was convicted of possession of child pornography downloaded from the internet. There were no accusations that he distributed, bought, sold or created the offending material.

None of the senators knew of the full case before Judge Jackson sentencing Hawkins. At the sentencing hearing, there were statements from the prosecutor and defense attorney and a confidential pre-trial report from the probation service after a thorough investigation of the relevant facts and circumstances.

This report remained under seal. Outdated sentencing guidelines for the offense called for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The prosecutor recommended a two-year sentence, saying Hawkins’ possession of the material was “extremely disturbing and worthy of punishment.” The defense attorney argued that Hawkins was young and remorseful and suffered from “emerging mental illness”. The probation service recommended an 18 month sentence.

Judge Jackson’s sentence was not out of step with other federal sentences given to people in the same situation, and Hawley at least three times had voted to confirm Trump-appointed judges who convicted child pornography defendants well below guidelines.

According to the 2005 Supreme Court decision in United States vs. Booker, notably endorsed by, among others, Justices Scalia and Thomas, the sentencing guidelines were declared advisory and not binding on sentencing judges. The guidelines, which everyone agrees are in dire need of reform, are promulgated by the United States Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan independent agency created to reduce sentencing disparities and “promote transparency and proportionality in federal criminal sentencing.” Justice Jackson served as the Commission’s Vice Chairman from 2010 to 2014.

The quartet of GOP senators, who sounded more like late-night talk show hosts than bona fide truth seekers, harshly criticized Jackson for being “soft on child pornography.” Hawley repeatedly hammered at her about whether she regretted the decision in the Hawkins case and made an unsubstantiated suggestion that after Hawkins was released he repeated the offense.

The four senators are seasoned lawyers. Three of them, Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton, attended Ivy League law schools. They should have known better. None of them pointed out that if the government had found fault with any of Jackson’s sentences below the guidelines, they could have appealed his decisions.. There was nothing in the file to suggest they ever did.

Child pornography is a particularly serious crime because it victimizes and exploits the helpless. Possession is a crime, as well as manufacturing and distribution, because if there were no consumers, there would be neither creators nor sellers. However, simple possession, especially by a young person, in the absence of anything else, is obviously not as serious a crime as manufacture and distribution by a twisted pedophile.

It’s amazing that Graham, who voted to confirm Jackson as a federal appeals judge less than a year ago, changed his position and raged so hard at her that he stormed the hearings in a great dudgeon. Highlighting how the attack on Jackson is falsely partisan, the The American Bar Association called her “well qualified” for the Court, using terms such as “brilliant”, “flawless”, “flawless” and “A-plus” to describe her.

Republicans have also raised concerns about Judge Jackson’s decision. voluntarily representation of certain Guantanamo detainees in the period 2005-2009. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul versus Bush, granting Guantanamo residents habeas corpus rights, hundreds of prominent attorneys from the nation’s top law firms have volunteered to provide legal assistance. In the team proposed by the Federal Defender’s Office in Washington or by the large business law firm that she joined later, was Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Defense attorneys have played an indispensable role in the justice system since the founding of the Republic. John Adams defended soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre. His son, John Quincy Adams, defended accused African slaves from the seizure of Amistad.

In 2009, Graham himself, who has not always been known for his consistency, makes a perfect statement of the point when lawyers who had represented Guantanamo detainees and then joined the Obama Justice Department were criticized:

“I have been a military lawyer for almost 30 years. I’ve represented people as defense attorneys in the military who’ve been accused of some pretty horrific acts, and I’ve given them my all… This justice system that we’re so proud of in America demands that the unpopular have a lawyer and every time a defense lawyer fights for the government to do their job, this defense lawyer has made us all safer.

A priest is never reviled for having confessed to a hardened criminal; nor is a doctor to cure a wicked patient. But a lawyer, strangely enough, is being reviled as “soft on crime” for zealously defending a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel.

Judge Jackson has all the trappings of a superb traditional justice, and the full Senate will vote on her nomination early next month. President BidenJoe BidenDefense & National Security – Russia’s tenuous grip slips on cash – Biden’s economic endorsement falls deeper Balance/Sustainability – US agency killed 400,000 native animals in 2021 MORE said he wanted to see bipartisan confirmation. Appointing a competent judge should be a shared bipartisan value, as they are guardians of our sacred right to justice. If confirmed only by a Democratic majority, it will be a sad day for the US Senate.

James D. Zirin, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the author of “Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court.”

Jon J. Epps