The Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson are heating up.
On Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) grilled Jackson about her past leniency on sex offenders.
Hawley’s line of questioning concerned the 2013 case of Wesley Hawkins, a 19-year-old whose laptop was seized by authorities and found to contain graphic and disturbing videos of young victims who lived in the same house with him.
Jackson, who presided over the case, essentially let Hawkins off with a light prison sentence of three months, followed by several years of supervised release.
Hawley first detailed his concerns about the “disturbing record,” which seem quite legitimate given the importance of the position Jackson intends to fill, in a lengthy Twitter thread that he posted on March 16.
So far, the Sentencing Commission has refused to turn over all Judge Jackson’s records from her time there. In light of what we have learned, this stonewalling must end. We must get access to all relevant records
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 16, 2022
“I’ve got a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 16-month-old at home,” Hawley explained to Jackson at the hearings. “And I live in fear that they will be exposed to, let alone exploited, in this kind of material.”
It should probably come as no surprise that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was among the first to criticize his fellow Republican for having the audacity to question the judgment of a Supreme Court nominee.
“It struck me that it was off course, meaning the attacks were off course that came from some,” Romney explained to The Washington Post. “And there is no ‘there’ there.”
Romney hasn’t met with Jackson yet, but he told the Post his decision on whether to vote for her confirmation would be based on her judicial philosophy—something Hawley’s line of questioning seemed designed to explore.
Meanwhile, rather than address the senator’s concerns in a mature and level-headed fashion, an incensed White House tried to smear Hawley as a rabid votary of a fringe cult—in this case, predictably, they accused him of being a member of QAnon, a group that has perhaps more clout in the Democratic imagination than in the real world.
Hawley's embarrassing, QAnon-signaling smear has been fact checked by: @washingtonpost, @nytimes, @AP, @CNN, @ABC, and @NRO:https://t.co/JDHAWH7l3dhttps://t.co/JbPnmE7lbIhttps://t.co/8DuoUg80hGhttps://t.co/fA4hUmeqGyhttps://t.co/fA4hUmeqGyhttps://t.co/UVCtmAImJ2
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) March 22, 2022
Taking its cue from the White House Press Office, The Washington Post helpfully explained that QAnon is an extremist ideology deemed a terror threat by the FBI.
“Its followers believe that some politicians and celebrities belong to an international cabal of pedophiles,” the newspaper continued. “QAnon’s ideas have been widely debunked, but they carry weight with some Republican voters.”
None of Hawley’s critics have adduced any proof that he is influenced by QAnon rather than, say, entirely natural concerns stemming from Jackson’s own record as a judge.
Hawley, for his part, dismissed the White House’s absurd remarks: “I just say as a father of three, I would hope that the White House and the president of the United States would take child pornography seriously, and with those kind of juvenile dismissals, it just makes me wonder if they care about it at all. I mean, is child pornography not a serious issue? Is that what [White House spokesman Andrew Bates] is saying?”
In the meantime, the confirmation hearings are far from over, so it’s likely there are more fireworks to come.
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