Prepared Floor Remarks
by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate
On the Nomination
of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court
Thursday, April 7,
the White House announced Judge Jackson’s nomination, I’ve emphasized the need
for a thorough and fair process. Unfortunately, Democrats weren’t concerned
with a rigorous examination of her record. The White House and Democrats have
shielded important information. We don’t have any non-public documents from her
time at the sentencing commission. The Obama White House held back more than
Jackson also gave the White House confidential, non-public probation
recommendations for some of her cases. But when we asked for a probation document
filed in the Hawkins case, Judge
Jackson claimed she was now unable to access records for her old cases. That
was allegedly because she’s no longer a district court judge.
that’s true, there are many unanswered questions about how information the
White House thought was helpful was so easily obtained. So we should take into
account that all the helpful information has already been leaked.
brings me to the merits of Judge Jackson’s nomination. For judicial nominees,
their philosophy about how to decide cases has become a primary consideration.
of having a judicial philosophy is having an understanding of the foundational
principles in our constitution. Natural rights are a part of that system. Judge
Jackson explained that she does not “hold a position on whether individuals
possess natural rights.”
shocking. Natural rights are basic to our constitutional system and principles
of limited government.
country was founded on the belief that “all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these
are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
constitution vests the three branches of the federal government with limited
powers. All other power is reserved to the states or retained by the people.
principles of limited government are what makes America an exceptional nation
and set our constitution apart.
must have a proper understanding of those principles. Judge Jackson’s record
shows that she lacks that foundation. Here are few examples.
the hearing, Judge Jackson testified about one of her decisions involving the First Step Act. In that case, prosecutors
had rock-solid evidence against a dangerous drug kingpin. But Judge Jackson was
displeased that the government pursued a mandatory minimum sentence.
she misused a motion for compassionate release to resentence him to the
sentence she thought he deserved.
lead author of the First Step Act, I
know that’s not what we wrote the statute to do. The Act was supposed to allow
elderly inmates and those suffering from terminal illness to petition the court
for a sentence reduction.
statute also allows for a reduction if the court finds an “extraordinary and
compelling” reason. Judges should use great discretion, and weigh against the charge,
the danger to society, and the risk of recidivism.
her hearing, Judge Jackson said that she based her “extraordinary and
compelling” finding on the non-retroactive change in the law. This radical misinterpretation is terrible and
chose which provisions of the First Step
Act would apply retroactively. The
Senate is currently considering legislation that I cosponsored with Chairman
Durbin that makes some of the First Step
Act retroactive. But that’s Congress’s role, not a judge’s.
Durbin and I wouldn’t have been able to broker a compromise if senators thought
that judges would rewrite the law and insert their own views from the bench. Decisions
like this will make bipartisan work harder to do.
Young is just one example of Judge
Jackson’s lenient approach to criminal law and sentencing.
also declined to apply a number of sentencing enhancements Congress put into
the sentencing guidelines.
Make the Road New York v. McAleenan is another case
that shows how Judge Jackson used her methodology to reach a result that
contradicts the plain text of the law. Congress gave the Secretary of Homeland
Security “sole and unreviewable discretion” to decide whether illegal
immigrants should be subject to expedited removal within two years. Judge
Jackson reviewed the agency’s decision anyway.
seems clear why. She went out of her lane to comment on the policy as a
she claimed the government attorneys made an argument that “reeks of bad
faith.” In fact, her decision and her rhetoric are unfounded.
why her decision earned her a strong rebuke from a panel of liberal and
conservative judges when she was reversed by the D.C. Circuit. Judge Millett,
an Obama appointee, explained, “[t]here could hardly be a more definitive
expression of congressional intent” than “sole and unreviewable discretion.”
are just a few examples of Judge Jackson’s judicial activism. Because her
record clearly shows she does not believe in, or act within, the limited and
proper role of a judge, I will vote against her nomination.