For totally NOT racist reasons, obvs.
Republican senators' reactions to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have run the gamut from filthy to shameful. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, both of whom supported her elevation to the DC Circuit, have gone out of their way to spread Josh Hawley's filthy lies about Judge Jackson favoring sex offenders. But they, like Ted Cruz, are soulless fucking ghouls — you never expected any better from them.
It's the squishes that really shock the conscience. The Romneys, the Cassidys, the Burrs ... the ones who bloody well know that the way the GOP is treating Jackson is disgusting and could not possibly be justified even if everything they claimed about Democrats' treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh were true. Which it is not.
Take Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos this weekend to explain that, although Jackson's confirmation to the Supreme Court will be "a high point for the country," he still intends to vote against it.
Roy Blunt on ABC says Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirming to SCOTUS will be "a high point for the country," but he won't support her. Asked why by Stephanopoulos, he offers a word salad.pic.twitter.com/QLjE4sDcMR— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1648998526
Here's how the retiring Missouri senator explained his decision:
BLUNT: You know, I've thought -- initially, my sense is that the president certainly had every good intention and every right in the campaign to talk about putting the first black woman on the court. I think it's time for that to happen. I was hoping that I could be part of that. I had a great conversation with her.
Really, there are two criterias, I said immediately. One is, is the person qualified for the job? And two is, what's her judicial philosophy?
She's certainly qualified. I think she's got a great personality, I think will be a good colleague on the court. But the judicial philosophy seems to be not the philosophy of looking at what the law says and the Constitution says and applying that, but going through some method that allows you to try to look at the Constitution as a more flexible document, and even the law. And there are cases that show that that’s her view.
Note that he did not name any cases, choosing in spectacularly cowardly fashion to wave his hands generally in the direction of Hawley's vile attacks, without sullying his gentlemanly demeanor by mentioning them himself.
Just look at this spineless jellyfish of man trying not to look like a racist POS, telegraphing his appreciation of "the importance of the moment," while simultaneously insisting that he'll have no part of it:
BLUNT: I think she’s certainly going to be confirmed. I think it will be a high point for the country to see her go on the Court and take her unique perspective to the Court, but I don't think she's the kind of judge that will really do the kind of work that I think needs to be done by the Court.
And I won't be supporting her but I'll be joining others in understanding the importance of this moment.
It takes a lot to make Susan freakin' Collins look brave by comparison, but this guy handles it with ease.
So far Collins is the only Republican who says she'll vote for Jackson's nomination. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, the only other Republicans who haven't completely killed off their inner Jiminy Cricket (although they usually keep him locked in a closet), are still unaccounted for. But the clock is ticking down, with Democrats looking to move the nomination out of committee today, with a final confirmation vote set for Friday or Monday.
Hang tight, this thing is pretty much a done deal. But gawdalmighty that was repulsive.
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The mainstream extremist Republicans are facing off against the extremist extremists.
The national Republican obsession with restricting democracy grinds forward this week. In Kansas, a lawsuit over the GOP-drawn redistricting maps that give Republicans a built-in electoral advantage will go to trial next week. Next door in Missouri, which hasn't even completed the pre-lawsuit stage of redistricting this year, the deadline for candidates to file for this year's August primary elections was Tuesday, but those candidates aren't entirely sure where they'll be actually running, since the state House rejected a redistricting map the Senate had passed last week.
The AP notes that Missouri is one of just a handful of states that hasn't finished redistricting, although you might want to wash that hand. Florida's Legislature and governor are both Republican, but they haven't yet agreed how to screw minority voters out of representation. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has pledged he'll veto the GOP-led Legislature's redistricting maps. And in Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has already vetoed the redistricting plan the Republicans passed in the state Lege.
Kansas Lawsuit: GOP Bias Out The Wazoo
In Kansas, a trial will begin Monday over the redistricting map drawn by the Republican state Legislature; the plaintiffs argue that the new districts violate the state constitution by discriminating against minority voters and giving a built-in advantage to Republicans. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, had vetoed the map in February, but the Republican-dominated Legislature overrode the veto.
One of the most glaring changes is that, for the first time in 40 years, Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City (the Kansas One), will be split up between two districts, which has the convenient effect (for Republicans) of also carving up minority communities that have tended to vote for Democrats. In another fun move, the map moves Lawrence into a solidly Republican district, where Lawrence's Democratic-leaning voters will have considerably less influence in elections.
The new map will also make reelection more difficult for Rep. Sharice Davids (D), one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, by slicing away a large chunk of Kansas City, where her support is strongest, and moving it into another district. Davids is the only Democrat among Kansas's four US House members.
The Kansas City Star reports that expert witnesses for the plaintiffs have prepared reports arguing that the Kansas map gives Republicans an "extreme, disproportionate advantage" and that
the division of Black and Hispanic voters across the Kansas City metro area 3rd District and the eastern Kansas 2nd District has reduced or eliminated the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice in either district.
“On this plan, Republicans are likely to win nearly all of the congressional elections over the next decade while only winning 57-59% of the votes in Kansas,” wrote Christopher Warshaw, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.
Another of the experts, University of Michigan political science prof Jowei Chen, wrote that the Legislature's map
goes “beyond any ‘natural’ level of electoral bias” caused by state’s political geography or the political composition of the state’s voters. Nearly 99% of computer simulations Chen ran using non-partisan, traditional redistricting criteria created fewer Republican-leaning districts than the map passed by lawmakers.
Needless to say, Republican legislators, some of whom have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial, insist that the maps are fair and unbiased and that in creating the new districts they simply acted based on the wishes of Kansas voters, who obviously want Republican bias or they wouldn't have elected a Republican majority in the Legislature, jeez that's only logic.
Earlier this week, the lawsuit survived a legal challenge brought by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office, which sought to dismiss the case under the creative legal theory that the US Constitution forbids courts from addressing gerrymandering. Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper wasn't impressed, saying that doing things that way would give legislators “unfettered and unchecked power” in redistricting. Well yes, because something something republic not a democracy.
Missouri: Who The Fuck Even Knows?
As we noted up top, the Missouri Legislature's inability to agree on how exactly to gerrymander the state has now led to a mess affecting this year's elections. As the AP explained Tuesday, it really does come down to a fight among extremist factions, not that the AP puts it so crudely or accurately:
Although the House passed a redistricting plan in January, Senate Republicans stalled for months amid internal divisions over how aggressively to gerrymander the map to their favor. The Senate finally passed a plan Thursday, but because of the changes, it needs House approval to go to Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state House hadn't done anything to pass that map, and as of right now, that still seems to be the case. Instead of simply voting to approve the Senate version, the House instead voted to send the map to a conference committee with the Senate to iron out the differences. That's being complicated by the Senate's conservative caucus, which said Wednesday that it would block any attempt at negotiating with the House, because ain't nobody in the Republican Party of Donald Trump pure enough, as far as we can tell.
The Missouri Independent explains that mainstream extremist Republicans are willing to gerrymander the map so that six of the state's eight congressional districts would give the GOP an advantage, allowing two Democratic districts. But the conservative caucus extremist extremists are holding out for a plan that would give Republicans seven districts and Democrats only one. The map the Senate approved last week has two districts that favor Democrats, five that heavily favor Republicans, and one district that leans Republican but might conceivably be contested. That seat, in the Second District, is currently held by Rep. Ann Wagner (R).
Democrats, not that they matter, keep pointing out that in 2020, the actual split in voting statewide only gave the GOP a 60-40 advantage, so maybe that should be reflected in congressional districts. How charming their naive appeal to "fairness" and "representative democracy" is!
Despite nobody knowing what the final map will look like — the AP notes that if no new map is drawn, the existing 2010 maps will be used — 62 candidates have filed for congressional primaries that will take place in August, somewhere. Among them is Democratic state Senator Steven Roberts, who filed to run against the wonderful incumbent Democratic Rep. Cori Bush. He sounds like a real piece of work.
“We all had the highest hopes for Congresswoman Bush but she’s shown over the past year and a half that she’s not interested in the job of United States Representative,” Roberts said in a news release after filing.
Roberts brings baggage to the race in the form of accusations made in 2016 by the late Cora Faith Walker that he had sexually assaulted her. The Intercept reported last week that Roberts’ Wikipedia page has been edited repeatedly, by someone with a state government IP address, to remove references to the accusations.
Roberts has denied making the edits.
Well no thank you, Cori Bush seems pretty good. Christ on a Vespa, Missouri, what is it with your "Democrats"?
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IT'S A BAD COURT BRANT.
Yesterday, the US Supreme Court, which loves "state's rights" just as long as you're attacking women's bodily autonomy, trans people, or people of color, decided to jump into Wisconsin's redistricting war. Because why not?
And, of course, this Court is never just going to fuck things up in the normal Republican-evil way of the past. No, they are in the midst of an all-out attack on voting rights — especially for Black and brown Americans. (Full disclosure: In my other life, I'm the Policy Director for Wisconsin Voices and have been working on redistricting and ensuring Black and Brown voices are represented in our state's maps. This is not my first rodeo.)
When this Court goes for it, they really go for it. And so, the Court didn't just issue a stay or decide to hear Wisconsin Legislature v. Wisconsin Elections Commission; in an unsigned opinion, it summarily reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling on the state's electoral maps without any argument or briefing on the merits. And in that unsigned opinion, they made it pretty clear that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is next on the chopping block.
Here's the background
Since before the 2020 Census results were even released, we knew redistricting in Wisconsin was going to be a shitshow and that a court was going to end up drawing our maps. The Wisconsin Constitution requires that the legislature and the governor agree on electoral maps, and we have a batshit insane legislature hell-bent on destroying our democracy as well as a reasonable governor in Tony Evers. When the legislature and the governor can't agree, the issue goes to the courts.
In the past, the Seventh Circuit has drawn Wisconsin's maps when there was no agreement, but this year our state supreme court decided to step in. The majority-conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it would choose the maps that presented the least change from our uber-gerrymandered 2011 maps. And earlier this month, the court did just that, finding that Governor Evers's maps presented the least change from the 2011 maps and also complied with the Voting Rights Act by creating a new majority-Black district in Milwaukee because of the increase of Black voters in the area.
Let's talk law
When race can be considered in redistricting is a very normal legal doctrine — by which I mean it's one full of rules and exceptions and "well, it depends" answers to what sound like simple questions.
The general rule is that the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause prohibits making race a primary consideration when drawing political maps. To use race as a predominant factor in map-drawing, you have to pass the strict scrutiny test: You have to show the maps are (1) narrowly tailored to further a (2) compelling state interest.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race. This includes a ban on diluting minority vote by doing things things like packing minority voters into a small number of districts or cracking minority voters across several districts. Since 1965, the Supreme Court and lower courts have considered compliance with the Voting Rights Act to be a compelling government interest.
After the US Supreme Court decimated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (aka the Plessy v. Ferguson of our time), Section 2 became the most important federal tool for challenging racist election practices. But don't you worry, racists who hate it when Black and brown people vote, because our esteemed Supreme Court justices are working to destroy Section 2, too.
Last summer, the Court weakened Section 2 by ruling in Brnovich v. DNC that it was totally fine for Arizona to enact racist voting laws that target racial minorities, as long as those laws might also disenfranchise some poor white people. And yesterday, the Court showed us once again just how excited it is to do away with these so-called "voting rights" once and for all.
Let's talk Milwaukee
During the five months the Wisconsin Supreme Court spent on the redistricting litigation, all parties pretty much agreed Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act applies to Milwaukee. Per long-standing SCOTUS precedent (Gingles v. Thornburg), Section 2 applies when a minority population is "sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district," is "politically cohesive," and the "majority votes sufficiently as a bloc to enable it ... usually to defeat the minority's preferred candidate."
Milwaukee ticks all of those boxes. And I agree with Governor Evers that Section 2 requires seven majority-Black districts in Milwaukee. The problem isn't the idea of an additional majority-Black district, but ensuring any Section 2 districts actually create opportunity for minority voters.
As Senator Lena Taylor, one of just three Black Wisconsin state senators, argued to SCOTUS, the issue with the maps wasn't carving out seven majority-Black districts — it was creating "majority-Black districts" that didn't have enough Black people to comply with the Voting Rights Act. (The Republican maps would have reduced the number of majority-Black districts from six to five, despite a growth in Milwaukee's Black voting age population and a corresponding drop in Milwaukee's white voting age population, but that's an issue for another court and another day.)
But this, of course, is not the Supreme Court's problem with our maps. Rather, the Court stepped in here to try to ensure the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes even more power from Black voters if possible, Voting Rights Act be damned.
For most of the redistricting litigation, it was essentially undisputed that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act applied to Milwaukee. Even Wisconsin's 2011 maps, often declared the most gerrymandered in the country, created six majority-Black state Assembly districts in Milwaukee County. But now, the US Supreme Court is saying that the analysis done by the Wisconsin Supreme Court wasn't enough to justify the creation of seven majority-Black districts.
One of the scariest parts of all of this is that Governor Evers never argued that his maps were primarily drawn to create majority-minority districts. Historically, the rule has always been that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits using race as the predominant factor in map-drawing. The maps that were submitted weren't drawn specifically with race in mind — they were created to follow the Wisconsin Supreme Court's guidance of creating the least change from the 2011 maps. They also created seven majority-Black districts in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
The posture of this case is different from normal Voting Rights Act cases. Usually, when a court is considering a Section 2 issue, it is in a Voting Rights Act case filed in federal court — and the court creates a large record analyzing maps, legislative history, historic voting patterns, and the local history of minority disenfranchisement. That gives the courts the ability to consider all of the relevant facts and do a full analysis.
That just isn't going to be possible in certain cases where courts are acting as map drawers. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was creating the maps, not reviewing them for Section 2 compliance. The governor submitted maps to the court specifically to follow the court's "least change" measure. The governor also considered compliance with the Voting Rights Act when drawing his maps.
This is what should happen! It has been the law for decades that compliance with the Voting Rights Act is a valid reason to take race into consideration when drawing maps. Requiring states to completely ignore Section 2 compliance when drawing maps will, at the very best, result in justice delayed. Minority voters will be required to wait until illegal maps are drawn and then litigate the issue, likely for years, before any corrective measure can be taken. But that is essentially what SCOTUS said must happen when it wrote:
The question that our VRA precedents ask and the court failed to answer is whether a race-neutral alternative that did not add a seventh majority-black district would deny black voters equal political opportunity. Answering that question requires an "intensely local appraisal" of the challenged district. When the Wisconsin Supreme Court endeavored to undertake a full strict-scrutiny analysis, it did not do so properly under our precedents, and its judgment cannot stand.
The rule in Section 2 cases has never been that the court must consider race-neutral alternatives. And if this is applied in all Section 2 cases, that part of the Voting Rights Act is, at least in practice, probably going the way of Section 5 à la Shelby County.
The Court's suggestion to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is that "the court is free to take additional evidence if it prefers to reconsider the Governor’s maps rather than choose from among the other submissions. Any new analysis, however, must comply with our equal protection jurisprudence."
No mention of the Voting Rights Act.
This is fine
While the impending decimation of the rest of the Voting Rights Act is the scariest thing about this opinion, it's far from the only fucked up part. The Court issued a summary reversal without full briefing — parties had only filed briefing on the legislature's request to stay the state court ruling and had not even briefed the merits. Summary reversal is rare and generally requires six justices to sign-off, so even though the opinion is unsigned (cowards), we can be reasonably sure John Roberts, who hates Black voting rights as much as anyone, sided with the five fullblown fascists. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were the only noted dissents.
This case is also another example of the Supreme Court using the "shadow docket" to make important rulings. Most major Supreme Court rulings come after months of briefing, oral arguments, and consideration by the Court. But in recent years, the Roberts Court has increasingly enjoyed issuing major rulings on the merits of cases without any of this. Precedents intended to last for decades if not longer are created, as in this case, after just a couple of weeks and no full picture of the issue at hand.
Between this case and the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Merrill v. Milligan (another shadow docket case), the Voting Rights Act is, at best, on life support. In Merrill, the Court overruled a decision requiring Alabama to create a second majority-Black congressional district. (The very "liberal activist" three-judge panel the Supreme Court overturned included two Trump appointees.)
In the Alabama case, the judges said it was just too close to the state's May primary to bother worrying about the Voting Rights Act. Sorry, Black voters!
Here in Wisconsin, on the other hand, our maps were summarily reversed and sent back despite the Wisconsin Elections Commission repeatedly saying that it needed the state's maps finalized by March 15 at the latest. That's because the candidate nomination period starts April 15 and people need to know what district they live in. Oh well! If you don't know what district you're going to be in for the next decade, too bad, so sad.
For the record, I part from most Dems in that I don't think it's a bad thing for a court to take a second look at Governor Evers's maps. But my issue is that the governor's maps didn't give enough power to Black voters — and SCOTUS is out here trying to diminish the power of Black voters even more than they already have.
But all of this is par for the course with the Roberts Court. I'm almost surprised they didn't just force the Wisconsin Supreme Court to just choose the Republican maps, like the legislature asked them to.
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In the Trump years, factchecking came to feel like an almost Sisyphean task. There was just so much complete bullshit, and so many of the Trump faithful didn't care that it was bullshit, that the task seemed fruitless — but still necessary to make sure reality got on the record. Which brings us to our post-truthiness era, where a majority of Americans voted for reality and an entire political party has convinced itself that living in a world of lies is just plain more satisfying.
That's fully on display this week in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Out here on Reality Earth, she's an extremely well-qualified jurist with impeccable credentials and a commitment to justice, even Justice with a capital J. On GOP Planet, she's automatically unqualified because Joe Biden said he'd appoint a Black woman, and that means he automatically excluded more-qualified candidates like Justice Freeze-In-Your-Truck And Justice Rapeybeer.
But just in case the obvious racism weren't enough, Sen. Josh Hawley and s few other Republicans have decided to lie outright about Jackson's record. In mere reality, the sentences Jackson gave as a federal judge were in line with those of her peers. But in GOP moral panic world, Hawley has taken a bunch of cherry-picked examples and misleading quotes, taken out of context, to smear her with the false claim that she's a big fan of people convicted in child pornography cases. It's bullshit, and you can find very good, detailed fact checks of Hawley's lies at Vox, the New York Times, the Washington Post (here, have a paywall-free linky!), and even at the National Freaking Review.
The chief thing to remember about Hawley is that he's using a load of dishonest claims about Jackson's record. He has already insisted that critics are being super unfair to him, because everything he claimed about her is a "fact." But nah: Without proper context, they're still misleading bullshit. Josh Hawley is a smart but evil man who knows how to twist the truth; that doesn't make him any kind of truth-teller.
As WaPo's Glenn Kessler points out, Hawley posted a 17-part Twitter thread last week in which the senator offered a whole load of lies about KJB's record. Most of the lies he told fell into three basic areas.
1. Out Of Context Quotes
Hawley quoted questions Jackson asked during US Sentencing Commission (USSC) hearings and pretended those questions about child porn defendants reflected Jackson's own views. In each case, Jackson had restated something a witness had said in testimony, then asked for more information or a clarification, because the whole point was to revise sentencing recommendations that federal judges had been complaining about.
For instance, when Jackson asked expert witnesses about "less serious offenders," and about people who might access child porn not because they're pedophiles but as a way of proving their computer skills, she was asking for more information about the experts' research, and how prevalent they thought such behaviors were. She was not, as Hawley claimed, presenting her own "troubling" views. And as Kessler notes, the witness said that people who persist in collecting the stuff over time tend to become more serious offenders.
In reply to a request for comment, Hawley preemptively issued a news release on Twitter and accused WaPo of simply "regurgitating White House talking points," although the column hadn't yet run. Also too, Hawley seemed to deny that context exists, because if Jackson quoted any words, they now are her words:
Judge Jackson’s words are right there in print, and they speak for themselves. [...] When she does quote from or refer to previous testimony, she does so with approval and indicates the witness has changed her mind on child porn offenders.
After all, she must approve, since look at "her" words right there. (See WaPo for a detailed breakdown, which makes clear, that, NUH-UH.)
2. Pretending Unanimous Recommendations Were Jackson's Weird Radical Ideas
Hawley also pretended on Twitter that Jackson had personally "advocated for drastic change in how the law treats sex offenders" when in fact all the USSC's recommendations were the result of consensus among the seven members of the bipartisan commission, which had three Republican and four Democratic members.
The New York Times points out that the commission
noted in a 2012 report to Congress that existing sentencing guidelines on crimes involving images of child sexual abuse “fail to differentiate among offenders in terms of their culpability” and result in penalty ranges that “are too severe for some offenders and too lenient for other offenders.”
At WaPo, Kessler adds that the report noted that the guidelines also didn't make distinctions as to how dangerous the various types of offenders were. Since there was no mandatory minimum sentence for possessing child porn, but there was a five-year minimum for sending, receiving, or distributing it, Kessler explains, the commission found that
prosecutors and courts were gaming the system, seeking ways to limit sentence exposure by, for instance, charging someone only with possession even if they had committed other related crimes.
Judges didn't care for the inflexible guidelines either:
A 2010 survey showed 71 percent of judges said the mandatory minimums for receipt of images were too high. Moreover, in 2010 only 40 percent of convicted offenders for non-production — people who use existing images but do not make them — received sentences that matched the guidelines.
As a result, the commission suggested changes in minimums for non-production offenses, but not for people who make child pornography. It also recommended equalizing the punishment for possession and for receipt, transportation and distribution.
The members of the commission were divided on whether mandatory minimums were actually necessary for non-production crimes, but agreed unanimously that Congress should equalize the penalties for possession with those for the other charges, and that any minimum sentence be less than five years. Again, that was all the members, not Jackson on her own, and Congress didn't act on the recommended changes. Kessler notes that in 2021, the USSC again called for the changes.
Hawley's very smart answer to the critique was that even if it was the USSC's unanimous recommendation, Jackson nonetheless called for it, so it's on her. Also too, the other commissioners who made the very same recommendations "probably shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court either.” One of the commission's Republicans, Dabney Friedrich, was appointed to a federal judgeship by Donald Trump in 2017, before Hawley was elected. She was confirmed on a 97-3 vote, with all Senate Republicans supporting her.
3. OMG Her Sentences For Child Porn Were What Prosecutors Asked For!
Hawley also listed seven cases in which we're supposed to be horribly outraged that Jackson sentenced convicted child-porn offenders to less time than recommended in the federal sentencing guidelines. As should be clear by now, those guidelines are widely disliked by actual federal judges, who depart from them fairly regularly, as Kessler points out:
The 2021 USSC report noted that in 2019, only 30 percent of non-production child-porn offenders received a sentence within the guideline range. “The non-production child pornography guideline has been subject to longstanding criticism from stakeholders and has one of the lowest rates of within-guideline range sentences each year,” the report said.
After Hawley tweeted his thread of lies, another former member of the Sentencing Commission, NYU Law professor Rachel E. Barkow, tweeted that Hawley's complaints were "silly," explaining that Jackson's sentences for non-production child porn offenders were in line with "what most of the federal bench does," because "just about [every] federal judge realizes these Guidelines are too severe."
Kessler compared what prosecutors and US Probation officers had recommended in pre-sentencing reports for each of the nine cases, and found that in three of the seven cases, Jackson had imposed a longer sentence than the recommendation (and in one, Hawley had entirely misstated the details, claiming Jackson's sentence was much lower than the guidelines; in reality, it was within them). In two others, she had given the same sentence probation had recommended. Only two of the cases had sentences that were shorter than the prosecutors or probation had recommended.
Further, in US v. Sears, a case that Hawley had cited as a horror story because Jackson gave a shorter sentence (71 months) than the guidelines recommended (97 to 121 months), Kessler notes that Jackson later returned to the case in 2020 when the offender asked for a compassionate medical release. She denied the request, noting in her ruling that
The possession and distribution of child pornography is an extremely serious crime because it involves trading depictions of the actual sexual assault of children, and the abuse that these child victims endure will remain available on the internet forever.
She said the offender's behavior — which included showing clothed photos of a young female relative and a friend's child to an undercover cop — made him a likely danger to children, especially since he hadn't undergone the treatment she'd ordered in his original sentence.
It's difficult to read that order and decide Jackson is a pal to child pornographers. But then, Josh Hawley is all about smears, not about honesty.
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