Hawley's Twitter thread about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's record ignites angry firestorm

Hawley received fierce backlash from the Biden administration and mainstream media outlets

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., ignited a firestorm of reaction with a March 16 Twitter thread in which he raised questions about President Biden's Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Last week, Hawley highlighted Jackson's record as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and argued in a thread spanning 18 tweets that she has a history of "letting child porn offenders off the hook."

Hawley received fierce backlash from the Biden administration and mainstream media outlets in response to his Twitter thread.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed Hawley's objections, saying last week, "I'm not sure that someone who refused to tell people whether or not he would vote for Roy Moore is an effective and credible messenger on this."

Echoing Psaki, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said: "This is toxic and weakly-presented misinformation that relies on taking cherry-picked elements of her record out of context — and it buckles under the lightest scrutiny."

White House chief of staff Ronald Klain described Hawley's concerns as "false attacks" and "slop," linking to a fact-check from the Washington Post that gave the senator "three Pinocchios."

Elie Mystal, who serves as justice correspondent for "The Nation," went so far as to claim Hawley was attempting to incite violence against Jackson, telling MSNBC that he is "trying to get her killed" and that "to get violence done against a Supreme Court nominee."

MSNBC host Joy Reid said Mystal was "spitting pure truth" regarding his comments.

Multiple fact-checks against Hawley's tweets cited experts who have claimed that federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography are "draconion," "unduly severe" and "out-of-date."

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One expert, cited by Vox, was Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Professor Douglas A. Berman, who argued against accusations that Jackson gave out lenient sentences to sex offenders and child predators.
 

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson listens during confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson listens during confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Berman said in a post on his blog "Sentencing Law and Policy" that "any review of Judge Jackson's CP [child pornography] sentencings must include proper context regarding the federal sentencing guidelines for CP which are widely recognized as dysfunctional and unduly severe."

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During her confirmation hearing Monday, Hawley confronted Jackson with his concerns, saying, "It's difficult … to argue that the sentencing guidelines are too harsh or outmoded, or that we should be somehow treating child porn offenders more leniently."

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Hawley told Politico after meeting Jackson that he liked her "personally" but had issues with her record on crime.