The Washington Post: Mike Davis Says Republicans Should Make Jackson Hearing a Political Wash for Dems

The Washington Post

In fall 2020, when Amy Coney Barrett was facing her Supreme Court confirmation, Democratic senators trying to derail her nomination devised a consistent and clear line of attack: That she would be a threat to Americans’ health care and the Affordable Care Act.

For Senate Republicans grilling Ketanji Brown Jackson next week, the message is not nearly as cohesive — if there is a message at all.

On Wednesday, Hawley launched a fresh volley against Jackson that was rooted in what he called an “alarming sentencing leniency for sex criminals.” Among other criticisms, Hawley asserted that Jackson, as a district court judge, had deviated from federal sentencing guidelines to favor the defendant in “every single child porn case for which we can find records.”

Administration officials pushed back, with White House spokesman Andrew Bates saying Thursday that “in the overwhelming majority of her cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. Probation recommended.”

Still, there were signs Thursday that Hawley’s attack was starting to percolate among Republicans. An aide to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) — the sole female Republican on the committee — said Blackburn plans to raise the issue as well during the hearing, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted in part, “We need real answers.”

Hawley, in an interview, also said he plans to raise Jackson’s representation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay when she was a public defender and then as a private attorney.

“I’d like to get some better understanding of the arguments that she made — both as a public defender and in private practice — in terms of sanctioning the government, arguments she made about the prisoners themselves, the terrorists themselves and then her position on having those people tried in civilian court,” Hawley said.

But the focus of some Republicans on the individuals Jackson defended has drawn reservations from Kennedy, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee. Kennedy said he does not recall ever criticizing a fellow attorney for a client he or she represented: “You can, if you want to, if that’s what my colleagues want to do,” he said. “I just don’t feel like it’s fair.”

Much of the early combat from Republicans, knowing the party appears likely to lose the confirmation battle, has been focused on ensuring that Democrats don’t reap any political benefits from installing the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. In a Quinnipiac Poll this week, 52 percent of those surveyed said that Jackson should be confirmed, while 24 percent disagreed. Nearly a quarter of Americans in the poll said they had no opinion.

“Republicans should make it a political wash for democrats, not a political win,” said Mike Davis, a former top aide to Judiciary Committee Republicans who now runs the Article III Project, an outside group that promotes naming conservatives to the judiciary.

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