McConnell memo outlines case for Republicans to vote against Judge Jackson’s 'elevation to the Supreme Court'

Ketanji Jackson confirmation to move forward after Judiciary Committee tie vote

Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram on the vote to send the Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the floor Monday night.

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s team is circulating a memo on Capitol Hill outlining three main reasons why Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court this week in the Senate.

The memo, obtained first by Fox News Digital, is titled: “The Case Against Judge Jackson’s Elevation To The Supreme Court.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after a Republican strategy meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 19, 2021.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Judge Jackson’s prior judicial experience and her inability to answer basic questions throughout the confirmation process underscore why Leader McConnell announced that he could not support her nomination to the high court,” the memo from Senate Republican Communications Center says. 

The memo criticizes Jackson’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on three fronts: her dodging of questions on whether she favors court packing; her inability to explain her judicial philosophy and her “soft on crime” sentencing record, including those of several child pornography offenders. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during her Senate confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, March 23, 2022.
(Getty Images )

The memo even cites a Washington Post article where a reporter interviewed one of Jackson’s defendants, Wesley Hawkins, who pleaded guilty in 2013 for possessing videos and images of children engaged in sex acts. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended eight to 10 years and prosecutors wanted two years. Jackson gave him three months behind bars. 

Hawkins told the paper he was initially angry about Jackson’s sentence, until he got to prison and started comparing his three-month sentence to similar offenders who got five or six years instead. 

“Nothing underscores more Judge Jackson’s soft on crime approach to child porn offenders than the testimonial of one of the individuals she sentenced for these crimes,” the GOP memo says. 

SRCC Memo Judge Jackson by Fox News

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked in an 11-11 tie on whether to favorably recommend Jackson out of the committee – split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. But by Monday evening, the full Senate voted to discharge Jackson’s nomination from the committee, setting the stage for a final vote on her nomination as soon as Thursday. 

All 50 Democrats voted in favor of the discharge motion, plus three Republicans: Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine. The trio said they support Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court, giving President Biden’s nominee some level of bipartisan support. 

The White House and Democrats have pushed back hard against accusations Jackson was too lenient on child pornography offenders, arguing that a handful of cases don’t capture the full record of Jackson’s time on the bench.

They say Jackson’s sentences are in line with other federal judges, citing a 2020 U.S. Sentencing Commission report that found less than 30% of non-production child-porn offenders received a sentence within the guideline range in the 2019 fiscal year. 

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives for the third day of her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, March 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

They’ve also touted her endorsement from police organizations, such as the Fraternal Order of Police, to counter the notion she was too soft on criminals. 

White House spokesman Andrew Bates blasted this line of attack against Jackson, calling it “conclusively debunked” by legal experts and fact-checkers. He pointed to several judges nominated by former President Trump who had similar track records on child pornography sentences because the guidelines are “widely considered out of date.”

If confirmed, Jackson will make history, fulfilling Biden’s campaign promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

She’d succeed Justice Stephen Breyer once he retires from the bench at the end of the court’s 2021-22 term, which could be late June or early July. 

The ideological makeup of the court will remain the same with a 6-3 split in favor of justices appointed by Republican presidents. 

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