‘It’s bulls—‘: Democrats reject Jackson’s softness on crime

Tester’s red state is the second toughest Democratic seat to fill, and its dismissive response shows a growing determination among Democrats to confirm Jackson. There is no indication within the 50-member Democratic caucus that anyone, including Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) is moved by the GOP’s scrutiny of Jackson’s sentencing record. , according to Democratic senators and aides.

And that’s key to confirming Jackson: As a handful of GOP senators begin to deliberate over the first black woman appointed to the Supreme Court, her path really rests on the votes of senators like Manchin, Tester and Sinema. If the Democrats can hold all of their members together, Jackson will be confirmed regardless of where the Republicans stand.

While a growing number of Republicans have raised questions about Jackson’s record on child porn offenses, Democrats largely associate the attack with Hawley, whom they see as motivated primarily by his own ambitions. Manchin brushed off the tactic similarly to Tester earlier this week: “It’s Hawley, isn’t it? Take it for what it’s worth. Manchin is following the hearing this week from Paris, where he is attending the International Energy Agency’s 2022 ministerial meeting.

Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns this fall also don’t seem to think there’s much there.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) said he was “impressed with his testimony so far” and added that portraying Jackson as overly lenient in sentencing is “just politics.” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) said the soft crime narrative “has been discredited. Even Romney thinks so. The two plan to meet the candidate next week.

“She’s been particularly impressive in light of what’s thrown at her,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), another at-risk incumbent this fall. “Some of my colleagues want to talk about crime as a political issue. And race. And I think it’s unfortunate that some of my colleagues are apparently willing to abdicate their responsibility to advise and consent in favor of short-term political gain.

Hawley pressed Jackson on why his sentences in child pornography cases fell below sentencing guidelines and Crown recommendations, despite the judges appointed by the Republican and Democratic presidents having similar backgrounds.

Asked to respond to Democrats’ rejection of his line of questioning, Hawley replied, “I would invite every member of the Senate to review the record, to read the transcripts. Because I know they are going to want to be well informed before this vote and not be embarrassed.

After three days of Jackson hearings, Democratic leaders say things are still going their way. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday morning that “Republicans tried to strike a blow, but Judge Jackson kept her cool” and predicted she would get a final vote in the Senate before the start of the Senate vacation on April 9.

When asked if there was anything in the audience that worried her about the number of her party’s whips, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) called the Republicans’ questions “sad” and replied, “Even not close. Not. Same. Close.”

“I don’t know if any of us would be able to sustain this with the grace and poise and intelligence that she has shown,” said Stabenow, the No. 4 Democratic leader. whatever it is, it just reinforces what people think of her.”

Of course, Jackson and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would love the GOP’s help to get him across the finish line, with high hopes among Jackson supporters for confirmation. bipartisan at the end. And we don’t yet know where the votes are.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) has telegraphed for weeks that he is unlikely to support Jackson after Biden passed on South Carolina J. Michelle Childs for the High Court nominee. The senses. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) remain the most feasible cross votes for Jackson. These three Republicans supported his candidacy for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

In an interview, Murkowski said Jackson’s conviction record in the child pornography cases was “worth looking at,” but she wanted to know more before drawing a conclusion.

“If it’s really a pattern, it’s something that I think we should pay attention to. If it’s a problem of … one-offs that have been publicized more than that, I think it’s something we have to try to discern,” Murkowski said.

Another group of Republican senators, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, appear to be distressed by Jackson’s nomination after previously opposing her. They say they want to back her landmark bid to become the court’s first black female judge, but wrestle with her philosophically.

Blunt said his “initial inclination was: I would really like to vote for the first black woman to enter the court,” although he stressed that his view of the law and the role of the Supreme Court will determine his final decision. . He also said he didn’t think Hawley’s line of questioning “was off limits”, but declined to conclude that Jackson was lenient on the crime.

“His uncle was the Miami police chief, his brother was an undercover in Baltimore. That doesn’t sound like a soft-on-crime person,” Blunt said. “Hard to believe that would really be one person’s view on pedophilia, that [they’re] going to go easy on these people. So I’m going to watch this. »

Portman does not sit on the court panel but has a staff member in the room, monitoring the progress of the hearings. The incumbent senator assessed Jackson’s nomination this way: “She doesn’t share my judicial philosophy, for the most part. I think she is a qualified person and when I spent time with her I liked her. But I just have to take a look at everything.

As Cortez Masto noted, Romney is among the GOP voices who have challenged the idea that Jackson’s conviction record is a controversial issue; he told the Washington Post on Tuesday.: “There is not there, there.” He was more circumspect on Wednesday, explaining that he did not want to continue commenting halfway through. And although Republicans believe he will vote no, Romney said, “I haven’t made up my mind.

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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