LIVE: Jackson faces another tough questioning period from Graham, discusses Trump opinion

Jackson says one of the most effective deterrents is one she "imposed" in child pornography cases which is "substantial supervision."

Updated: March 23, 2022 - 2:10pm

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson returns to the Senate for the third day of her confirmation hearing as Democrat and Republican members of the Judiciary committee will continue on to a second extensive day of questioning.

Republicans have zeroed in on several facets of Jackson's record, the most noteworthy of which is her sentencing history in child pornography cases. But Wednesday provided senators an opportunity to focus on Jackson's history as jurist with, according to Republicans, an activist bent.

The day began with questions from two senators, Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who will have their 30-minute round of questions, followed by another round of questions for which each senator will be allotted 20 minutes. 

Prior to those questions, however, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) jumped in to accuse committee chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of "editorializing" the lines of questions coming from each Republican member of the committee. 

"It's called chairman's time," said Durbin.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Jackson explained why she decided to speak with defendants as a trial judge during sentencing in certain cases. GOP Sen. Tillis expressed concern about the judge's "empathy" in sentencing.

“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 come out, will be a part of our communities again,” Jackson said. “It is to our entire benefit, as Congress has recognized, to ensure that people who come out stop committing crimes."

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (La.) grilled Jackson over child pornography cases and the preferred way to deter crime. Graham said putting offenders in jail is better than monitoring their computer use.

"I want those people deterred," he said. "The computer and the Internet is feeding the beast here."

Jackson said one of the most effective deterrents is one she "imposed in every case" which is "substantial supervision."

Graham pressed Jackson, asking if she thinks "supervising" computer habits is a "bigger deterrent" verses putting offenders in jail.

"No, senator, I didn't say verses–" Jackson replied. 

"That's exactly what you said," Graham shot back.

Jackson later said she meant that jail and supervision of computer use are both child pornography deterrents.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) later called Graham's line of questioning "outrageous."

"It was going well until this last round of questioning, and it was an aberration of everything the Senate should stand for. You had a Republican member who went way over the time allotted to him, ignored the rules of the committee, badgered the nominee, would not even let her answer the questions," Leahy told reporters during a break.

On Tuesday, senators offered up questions about the nominee's history of defending terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay and her position on critical race theory. At one moment of the hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) read from books promoting critical race theory that are taught at Jackson's daughters' school, at which she is a board member.

During the many-hour hearing, Republicans offered an aggressive line of questioning pertaining to Jackson's pattern of handing down sentences to child porn sex offenders that some deem light. Jackson said that she had based those sentences not solely on the federal guidelines, but on a number of other factors. She reiterated time and again how seriously she takes the type of case in question and said that some of the cases had given her nightmares.

"A judge is not playing a numbers game. A judge is looking at all of these different factors," she said. Jackson said she takes into account not solely sentencing guidelines, but the victims' stories, defendants' histories, and the nature of the offense. 

Today, Jackson is facing another marathon questioning session where she's being pressed on her judicial philosophy and record as a federal judge and public defender.

Democrats, who have spent much of the hearings praising Jackson and celebrating the likelihood of confirming the first black woman to the Supreme Court, are aiming to confirm Jackson by April 8, the start of the Senate's Easter recess.

Wednesday will be the final day of committee questioning for the Supreme Court nominee.