Joe Manchin blasts Republicans for treatment of Ketanji Brown Jackson

Joe Manchin blasts Republicans for treatment of Ketanji Brown Jackson

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blasted his Republican colleagues Tuesday for their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings last week, calling their behavior “disgraceful” and “embarrassing.” 

“It was disgraceful, it really was, what I saw,” said Manchin, according to The Hill. “And I met with her and read all the transcripts. I listened to basically the hearings and it was just embarrassing.” 

“It’s not who we are. It’s not what we were sent here to do, to attack other people and just try to tear them down. I won’t be part of that. I think she’s extremely well qualified and I think she’ll be an exemplary judge,” he added. 

Multiple GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Jackson last week over her record as a federal judge, focusing on sentences she handed down in child pornography cases. 

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were among those who closely questioned the judge over a handful of cases in which Jackson gave offenders penalties well below recommendations by prosecutors and probation officers.

Sen. Joe Manchin called his Republican colleague’s behavior “disgraceful” and “embarrassing.” 
Sipa USA via AP
Josh Hawley
Sen. Josh Hawley asked Jackson if she regretted being too lenient with some of her sentencings.
Pacific Coast News / Ron Sachs – CNP

Near the end of over 20 hours of questioning, Jackson appeared to grow increasingly frustrated with the lawmakers. 

At one point, when Hawley asked if she regretted one of the penalties she handed down as being too lenient, Jackson shot back: “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.”

“In every case, I followed what Congress authorized me to do, and looking to the best of my ability [at] all of the various factors that apply that constrain judges that give us discretion, but also tell us how to sentence. And I ruled in every case, based on all of the relevant factors,” Jackson added, attempting to shift the focus on Congress for not enacting updated sentencing guidelines for federal judges.

Sen. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham repeatedly interrupted Jackson during her hearing.
AFP via Getty Images

Earlier in the hearing, Jackson engaged in a heated exchange with Graham, who repeatedly interrupted her as she attempted to answer his questions about deterring future offenders.

“Would you want to deter people from going down the road of using the computer that allows these people to have access to millions of photos because of the technology?” Graham asked. “I want those people – if you’re listening to my voice today and you’re on a computer looking at child pornography and you get caught, I hope you’re in – your sentences are enhanced because the computer and the internet is feeding the beast.”

“Senator, with respect to the computer, one of the most effective deterrents is one that I imposed in every case — and that judges across the country impose in every case – which is substantial, substantial supervision…” Jackson said. 

“It is a bigger deterrent to take somebody who’s on a computer looking at sexual images of children in the most disgusting way to supervise their computer habits versus putting them in jail?” Graham asked, interrupting again. 

“Now, Senator, I didn’t say exactly what you said,” Jackson shot back.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first black woman to be nominated to serve on the high court.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

“I think the best way to deter people from getting on a computer and viewing thousands and hundreds … of children being exploited and abused … is to put their ass in jail, not supervise their computer usage!” Graham said. 

The line of questioning appeared to be too much for Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who told Jackson at one point late in the proceedings, “I think we should recognize that the jackassery we often see around here is partly because of people looking for short term camera opportunities,” as Cruz sat expressionless next to him.

On Tuesday, committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters that he believed “four or five” of the GOP members on the committee acted respectfully during the hearing. 

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz’s behavior during Jackson’s confirmation hearing was criticized by Manchin.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

“This notion of asking the toughest and meanest questions and then race to Twitter to see if somebody is tweeting it, I mean, that’s as bad as playing to the cameras on the worst day,” he said, per The Hill.

Manchin announced Friday that he would vote to confirm Jackson, all but ensuring Democrats have the votes to elevate her to the nation’s highest court without GOP support.

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