Biden SCOTUS nominee criticized 'excessiveness' of sex offender punishments

Article was published anonymously in 1996 by Harvard Law Review, but Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson did not disclose her authorship until the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to list published writings as part of her confirmation process.

Updated: February 28, 2022 - 11:54pm

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President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, admitted on a questionnaire for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that she had authored a paper criticizing the "excessiveness" of sex offenders' punishments, which she said could be "unfair and unnecessarily burdensome."

Jackson authored "Prevention Versus Punishment: Toward a Principled Distinction in the Restraint of Released Sex Offenders," which was published anonymously in 1996 by Harvard Law Review. She did not disclose her authorship until the Senate committee asked her to list published writings as part of her nomination.

She argued that "courts have been unable" to differentiate between "preventive" and "punitive" punishments for sex offenders, according to the note obtained by the American Accountability Foundation.

"[E]ven in the face of understandable public outrage over repeat sexual predators, a principled prevention/punishment analysis evaluates the effect of the challenged legislation in a manner that reinforces constitutional safeguards against unfair and unnecessarily burdensome legislative action," she wrote.

She noted that convicted sex offenders are subjected to "four major restraints upon release from prison or parole: registration, community notification, DNA testing, and civil commitment."

Her paper focuses heavily on critiquing "excessive" sex offender punishments.

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