Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Accused Of Having Too Much 'Empathy'


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On Day 3 of "Did Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh face the same type of questioning?" Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson was accused by Republicans of having too much "empathy" when it comes to speaking people standing trial.

Judge Jackson defended how she speaks to people she sentences to prison, testifying in response to Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina on Wednesday (March 23): "My attempts to communicate directly with defendants is about public safety, because most of the people who are incarcerated –– via the federal system and even via the state system –– will be a part of our communities again."

"And so it is to our entire benefit, as Congress has recognized to ensure that people who come out stop committing crimes," Jackson added. She also noted that when handing down long sentences to people, she reiterates to them that she's doing so because "I am imposing consequences for your decision, your decision to engage in criminal behavior."

Judge Jackson's sentencing record has come into question by members of the GOP who made consorted claims that she's lenient on child sex offenders.

"Soft on Crime"

Facing the critique that she's too empathetic as a judge, Jackson also said she relies on her time as a public defender in which she saw a lot of people who didn't take responsibility for their actions because "they were bitter, they were angry, they were feeling victimized because they didn't get a chance to say what they wanted to say, because nobody explained to them that drug crimes are really serious crimes."

"I was the one in my sentencing practices who explained to those things in an interest of furthering Congress' direction, that we're supposed to be sentencing people so that they can ultimately be rehabilitated to the benefit of society as a whole," Jackson said.

Republicans have so far pressed Jackson about her religion, stance on Critical Race Theory, and a host of topics that don't include her record as a judge –– a tactic some say has been reserved for Black nominees exclusively.

On Wednesday (March 23) Judge Jackson said that if confirmed, she would recuse herself from the Harvard University affirmative action case set to begin next term.

In response to Sen. Josh Crawley's line of questioning, Jackson sharply responded: "Senator, what I regret is that in a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we've spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences."

Court Packing Double Standard

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed Jackson has been "unclear" and "evasive" particularly on the issue of "court packing."

Jackson, just like Amy Coney Barrett, declined to comment on court packing during the hearing. "In my view, judges should not be speaking to political issues, and certainly not a nominee to the Supreme Court."

What Happens Next

Questioning will wrap up on Wednesday (March 23) and the hearings will end Thursday (March 24) after the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses offer testimony.

From there, the committee will vote to move the nomination forward, then the final vote will go to the Senate floor. Dates for the final Senate vote have not been set, though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has previously signaled he's trying to get the vote through as soon as possible.

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