Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record of sentencing child pornography offenders was a major theme from Republicans during her confirmation hearings.
"What’s striking is, in these cases, in half of them, in five, you sentenced the defendant to the absolute lowest sentence under law,” said Sen. Ted Cruz.
But those cases represent just a small portion of her judicial record.
“You’ve picked out, um, I don’t know, seven, eight cases. I’ve sentenced more than 100 people,” said Judge Jackson.
Jackson says she’s presided over 14 cases dealing with child sex crimes. And she issued sentences in line with the probation office recommendations in 10 of those.
The American Bar Association committee investigating her record asked about her child porn sentencing decisions, and a majority of prosecutors and defense attorneys involved in those cases said Jackson didn’t demonstrate bias in any way.
“One prosecutor said, ‘I don’t observe any bias. And the judge was fair to all sides in connection with sentencing and all aspects.’ another prosecutor remarked, ‘judge jackson displayed the highest level of competence and integrity throughout the proceedings. Her rulings on the state of the law were reasoned and steeped in authority,’” said Joseph M. Drayton, a member of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary for the American Bar Association.
Overall, Jackson authored 578 opinions as a federal district judge. Less than 3% of those decisions were reversed or criticized by a reviewing court.
The American Bar Association review found no concerns with her judicial decisions, giving her a “well qualified” rating.
“We heard consistently from not only defense counsel, but prosecutors, how unbiased Judge jackson is. We heard phrases like ‘doing things by the books,’” said D. Jean Veta, a member of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary for the American Bar Association.
It’s not uncommon for the opposing party to focus on a nominee’s controversial decisions. But even though Republicans like Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz say they don’t agree with her decisions, Judge Jackson’s sentences were not outside the norm. The U.S. Sentencing Commission found that in 2019, 59% of non-distribution child porn sentences were below the recommended guidelines.