Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, has attracted immense controversy in her Senate confirmation hearings. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is poised to vote on Jackson on April 4, have verbalized concern about her record of doling out weak sentences for users of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Jackson may not be able to define what a woman is, or answer when life begins despite advocating for abortion, but she surely must know that allowing pedophiles to prematurely walk free is wrong -- right?
Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) honed in on Jackson's sentencing in multiple CSAM cases over the course of her career. In the 2013 case of United States v. Hawkins, Jackson sentenced an 18-year-old abuser to only three months in prison despite the federal guideline recommending a minimum of 97 months. Jackson claimed that her soft sentencing was based on Hawkins' age, reasoning that the little boys in his CSAM were "essentially [his] peers." Hawkins went on to display his pedophilic tendencies years later, proving that his short sentence had done nothing to deter or reform his behavior.
Arizona Representative Andy Biggs (R) joined FRC's Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" to discuss concerns about Jackson. Biggs explained, "What I must emphasize is that these were sexual molestation of children pictures... Some of them included torture... some of them included violence. And the reality is, those children were victims. And these viewers [of CSAM] were given basically a real break every time by this judge."
In a 2019 case that the White House reportedly omitted from materials given to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jackson demonstrated disturbing leniency with a 30-year-old school teacher who was caught possessing over 6,500 files of CSAM. Though the probation office recommended 84 months in prison, Jackson sentenced the offender to the minimum possible sentence of 60 months. Jackson cited letters of support from the offender's friends as indicative of his "true character."
The New York Times recently defended Jackson's record of leniency for pedophiles by characterizing sentencing guidelines for CSAM users as "unduly severe" and asserting that "federal judges nationwide rarely follow them," thus making Jackson's tendencies "mainstream." Yet this obfuscation simply distracts from the point that prioritizing the freedom of pedophiles over protecting children shows unacceptable judicial judgment for a potential Supreme Court justice. When did the heinousness of pedophilia and child sexual abuse material cease to be approached with common sense? And when did the protection of abusers become more significant than justice and safety for their victims?
Perhaps the answer lies in the idea of expressive individualism. Dr. Carl Trueman writes that, "Expressive individualism holds that human beings are defined by their individual psychological core, and that the purpose of life is allowing that core to find social expression in relationships. Anything that challenges it is deemed oppressive." In a 2012 hearing for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Jackson suggested to a witness that perhaps there are CSAM users who are "less serious offenders" because they are more interested in belonging to a group rather than viewing the material itself -- a mindset to which, clearly, she is sympathetic.
The influence of expressive individualism in civil society hews to the same line of reasoning that prevents Jackson from being able to define what a woman is, as she evidently believes this to be a term that can mean different things to different people. A culture that embraces expressive individualism has set the stage for child abuse by allowing one's inner self to determine both morality and identity, inevitably leading to the despicable rise of legal protection of pedophiles and the victimization of more and more children.
Jackson's leniency on CSAM is also consistent with her support for the ultimate exploitation of children through abortion. As Biggs told Tony on "Washington Watch," "I know that Ted Cruz put it to her and people said, 'oh, that was flippant.' It wasn't flippant. It gets to a very real point. She's not going to protect women or children."
As progressives hell-bent on confirming Jackson as the first black female Supreme Court justice to ignore the concerns of her leniency with pedophiles, they beg the question: is the appeal of diverse headlines truly greater than the need to protect some of our nation's most vulnerable citizens -- our children? Rather than dismissing the valid concerns of Republican senators as QAnon conspiracies, should progressives not also demonstrate concern for the possibility that our nation's justice system is not enforcing adequate punitive measures against those who derive pleasure from the rape and sexual exploitation of children?
Surely there are potential Supreme Court nominees available to our nation who are not as favorable toward pedophiles. As the internet allows for harmful material exploiting children to become increasingly available, America needs leaders that are tougher than ever on CSAM -- not more lenient. The Senate must consider its responsibility to protect the children of our nation and vote against the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson.