Turley counters Durbin’s weak excuse for not releasing key pre-sentencing reports for Ketanji Brown Jackson

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Law professor Jonathan Turley weighed in after Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is overseeing the confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, denied the release of reports that the SCOTUS nominee claims senators need to see for context regarding her rulings on sex offenders.

The judge asserted that senators needed to have access to pre-sentencing reports in order to get the full context of her sentencing of individuals convicted on child pornography charges. After being grilled by senators concerning her track record on the issue and then her statement on the review of the reports, Republicans pounced demanding access to them. Durbin quashed that idea and fast.

Turley has been watching the hearings and had numerous considered thoughts on the matter.

“The senators are fighting over the pre-sentence reports in Judge Jackson’s child pornography cases. Jackson just testified that you need to see not just the prosecutor’s filing but the PSR to understand the case. The GOP pounced on the comments and demanded the PSRs,” he tweeted noting the exchange.

“…Sen. Durbin is objecting that the move would “put lives at risk” and he is not willing to risk lives. He is clearly correct that these PSRs contain information that should not be made public. However, without dealing with the value of the PSRs, they can be redacted…,” Turley continued in his tweeted response to Durbin’s actions.

“…Confirmations often deal with FBI reports that contain similarly confidential and raw information from field investigations. Durbin has accused the GOP of endangering lives of innocent persons…,” he remarked.

“… Once again, there could be objections to the weight given to the PSR, but I think the accusation of endangering lives ignores the ability to redact material. I have worked with PSRs and most of the recommendations are focused on guideline calculations and recommendations…,” Turley pointed out.

“…One approach is to make the PSRs available as a sealed and non-public documents. A public version could then be produced in redacted form. Senators could see the original and the redacted material to guarantee that redactions are performed appropriately,” he concluded.

“I would just suggest we ought to think long and hard, my friends, about members of the judiciary committee endangering the lives of innocent people to pursue this line of questioning. We spent two days, 15, 16, 17, 18 hours, and a large part of it on this issue,” Durbin commented during the hearing. “I don’t believe these pre-sentencing reports are gonna change anyone’s disposition if they’re going to vote on this issue.”

“I do not want it weighing on my conscience that I gave the green light to release this information so that it might endanger the lives of innocent victims. I’m sorry. That is a bridge too far for me,” he defensively and lamely proclaimed.

Durbin dismissed even releasing redacted copies of the reports.

“I would suggest that the information contained in these reports is dangerous, dangerous to the victims, and to the innocent people who are mentioned in these reports, and unnecessary at this point.” Durbin railed and then angrily claimed, “it’s never been requested by this committee, and it’s merely a fishing expedition in dangerous territory.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) attempted to respond to Durbin and was rudely cut off.

“And I would say, senator, I will just tell you, I am not going to be party to turning over this information and endangering the life of an innocent person,” he raged, “for a political quest to find more information. We have exhausted this topic. We’ve gone through it over and over again. And I think that this is a bridge too far for this committee. That is my personal feeling.”


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