“I enjoyed meeting the nominee. I went into the Senate process with an open mind,” Senator Mitch McConnell (R.KY) declared on the Senate floor. “But after studying the nominee's record, and watching her performance this week, I cannot and will not support Judge Jackson for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”
McConnell's announcement comes following nearly a full week of being questioned by lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican senators such as Josh Hawley (R.MO) and Ted Cruz (R.TX) focused on her “alarming pattern” of giving extremely lenient sentences to child sexual offenders.
Hawley asked Jackson about her decision on United States v. Hawkins in which she sentenced a person caught with more than 30 explicit photos and videos of children to only three months in prison. And Cruz inquired about her ruling in United States v. Chazin, in which Judge Jackson handed down a sentence of 28 months, despite federal guidelines calling for 84 to 92 months in prison.
Jackson provided no substantive defense of her sentencing during the child-porn case that she heard as a Federal District Court judge. Instead, she said to Senator Cruz, “No one instance can be used to represent the complete sentencing history of a judge. I've sentenced over 100 individuals. There are between eight and nine cases in the chart.”
McConnell called Jackson out for accusing Congress of her supposed non-crime stance. McConnell stated, “It was not comforting to listen to a judge, Jackson, basically declare that if senators want her to be tougher on crime, we have to amend the law, remove the discretion of Judge Jackson and force her to comply with it. The response seems to suggest that personal policies and opinions are reflected in her law. This is precisely what the evidence suggests.”
McConnell also quoted Jackson's decision not to state whether she's in favor or against court-packing as a motive for his decision. McConnell added, “Judge Jackson is refusing to acknowledge a fringe view that Democrats ought to try to enlarge on the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer did not hesitate to denounce the unpopular opinion and defend their institution. I was thinking that this was a simple softball game for Judge Jackson, but it was not. The nominee suggested that there are two valid perspectives on the issue. She said she had an opinion on the issue, but she isn't sure she [should] share it… The most radical pro-court packing fringe groups badly wanted this nominee for this vacancy. Judge Jackson was the court packers pick, and she testified like it,” McConnell asserted.
Demand Justice was likely one of the “fringe” pro-court packing groups to which McConnell referred. Demand Justice is a dark-money group that led efforts to convince Justice Stephen Breyer to retire after he spoke out against packing the Supreme Court. The radical left-wing group’s former chief counsel, Paige Herwig, is now in charge of the president's nominating process for judges.
McConnell also described Jackson's views to be “a perfect summary of judicial activism,” and claimed they are in line with those of judicial activists such as the late Justice William Brennan. McConnell added, “On Tuesday night, after several hours of interrogation, I believe that we may have witnessed a moment of truth when [the] judge was being questioned about the judicial role. Judge Jackson was blunt in [her] response to this question. ‘Whenever there is a time when the Supreme Court has five votes, and they are an overwhelming majority in any opinion they come to' and ‘that's more than just a factual observation.'”
McConnell noted that this was obviously an echo of a famous quote from perhaps the most well-known judge of all time, the famous arch-liberal William Brennan. The late Justice Brennan told people the most important rule of the constitution was the law of five. With five out of nine votes, the majority is free to do whatever they want.
“It's a recipe for courts to wander into policymaking and prevent healthy democratic compromise. This is the misunderstanding of the separation of powers that I've spent my entire career fighting against.” McConnell concluded.