March 24, 2022

Durbin Questions Law Enforcement Representative, Other Witnesses on Judge Jackson's Record

In fourth day of Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court, witnesses debunk Republican myths, reiterate Jackson is within “mainstream” of judicial thinking

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Captain Frederick Thomas, the National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), and Wade Henderson, the President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record during the fourth day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Following baseless accusations that Judge Jackson is part of the “anti-incarceration” and “anti-police” movement, Durbin questioned Captain Thomas if his organization, NOBLE, would have endorsed her if these accusations were true.

Captain Thomas responded, “That would not have ever happened if she had made a statement like that. We never saw that in our research and that never came out.”

Durbin said, “I would assume the same thing is the case of the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest organization representing rank and file police in America and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, respected at their own level and the leadership they bring to law enforcement.”

Judge Jackson was endorsed by the nation’s top law enforcement officials, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Patrick Yoes, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), also put out a statement saying about Judge Jackson: “We are reassured that, should she be confirmed, she would approach her future cases with an open mind and treat issues related to law enforcement fairly and justly.”

Following repeated, baseless accusations from Senate Republicans that Judge Jackson imposed sentences on child pornography offenders that are outside of the judicial mainstream, Durbin questioned Wade Henderson about these false claims.

Henderson said, “When I saw the testimony yesterday, [I thought] that unfortunately this hearing has devolved in some ways to a partisan attack on an extraordinarily well-qualified nominee. By any standard, Judge Jackson's record both on and off the bench, her academic achievements are unparalleled with almost anyone who has been appointed to the Supreme Court. A failure to find her vulnerable on the basis of qualifications have led to a series of questions focused on seven decisions that she rendered in sentencing, that in my view bordered on the demagogic…The judge had clearly demonstrated that she was well within the mainstream of judicial thinking.”

Henderson concluded, “I felt that the criticism of her decision-making was displaced to the extent that her decisions, at least to those who questioned her, were somehow at variance with what the law was. They could have said that. No one did. But they could also recognize that it is up to Congress to establish the standards that judges apply in their decision-making responsibility to the extent that there were questions posed about her. Better to look inward at the role that Congress played in establishing the role that judges fulfilled in this moment.”

These false claims about lax sentencing in child pornography cases, initially brought by U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), have been repeatedly debunked by various news outlets. In fact, Judge Jackson’s sentences are in the judicial mainstream. As the Sentencing Commission concluded in its 2012 and 2021 reports, judges across the country consistently impose below-guidelines sentences in non-production cases due to a view that technological changes have rendered the guidelines outdated. For example, between 2015 and 2020, judges in the district of D.C., where Jackson served, imposed below-guidelines sentences in these cases 80 percent of the time; judges in Missouri district courts did so 77 percent of the time; and nationally, in 2019, only 30 percent of non-production child pornography offenders received a sentence within the guideline range.

Earlier, Durbin questioned the ABA Standing Committee representatives about the more than 250 interviews the Standing Committee conducted with judges, prosecutors, defenders, and other attorneys about Judge Jackson’s record and if there was any indication that she was ruling outside of the mainstream in her sentencing decisions. Chair of the Standing Committee Judge Ann Claire Williams, a former judge on the Northern District of Illinois and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, concluded that it had never come up in any of the interviews conducted.

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

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