Mid-South senators question Supreme Court nominee’s stance on sentencing for child pornographers, abortion

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 5:53 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday marks the third day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing and the final day of questioning for senators.

As senators prepare for their final opportunity to formally interview Jackson, we have the latest on the hearing, including reactions from Mid-South leaders who questioned the SCOTUS nominee.

Throughout the hearing, Jackson was asked about an array of things from the values she learned from her parents to balancing her career and motherhood but there were also some tense moments.

For many of Tuesday night’s questions, Jackson said the role of the judge is to decide cases and controversies based on law and fact, with the understanding that their obligation for an impartial ruling shouldn’t be influenced by their personal opinions.

During questioning, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton pressed Judge Jackson on a handful of issues including her thoughts on penalties for certain crimes.

“Let me just ask you a simple question about it,” said Cotton. “Should the United States strengthen or weaken sentences for child pornographers?

“Senator, that’s not a simple question and the reason is because what this country does in terms of penalties is in congress’s province,” Jackson answered.

She went on to say Congress decides the penalties and factors that judges use to sentence and said if Congress determined a set of penalties is insufficient then it would be in Congress’ scope to make that determination.

After a long day of Senate hearings, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn was the final senator to get questions in.

Blackburn argued that Jackson’s “judicial activism” was a concern for Tennesseans.

Much of her time with Jackson was spent discussing Roe V. Wade and abortion.

Blackburn brought up comments she says Jackson made about pro-life women in a brief filed on behalf of clients more than 20 years ago during her time in private practice.

“When you go to church knowing there are pro-life women there, do you think they are noisy, hostile, and in-your-face,” Blackburn asked. “Do you think of pro-life women like me that way?”

“Senator, that was a statement in a brief made during an argument for my client,” said Jackson. “It is not the way that I think of or characterizes people.”

Judge Jackson is set to replace Justice Stephen Breyer who is retiring. The 51-year-old would be one of the youngest justices on the bench if she’s confirmed.

The hearing continues later Wednesday morning. The last two of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senators will conduct their initial rounds of questioning then each senator will have a follow-up 20-minute questioning period.

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