Sen. Hawley grills SCOTUS nom as she defends essay on sex offenders: 'Doing what law students do'

"It wasn't about the sex crime, it was about the characterization of the law," she said of her article.

Updated: March 22, 2022 - 7:41pm

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Tuesday brought up his children during a fiery exchange with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who then defended an essay she wrote criticizing sex offender sentencing by saying she was "doing what law students do."

Hawley asked Jackson about her controversial actions and statements on child sex crimes during a heated exchange as the Biden nominee testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Missouri Republican said he has three children at home, ranging from 16-months to 9-years-old.

"I live in fear that they will be exposed to, let alone exploited in this kind of material," Hawley said, referring to child pornography. 

"It really bothers me that in every case, child porn case you've had, you've had discretion, you've sentenced below the guidelines and below the government's recommendation," Hawley told Jackson.

He then turned to ask the judge about a 1996 Harvard Law Review article in which she wrote about a "current climate of fear, hatred, and revenge associated with the release of convicted sex criminals."

"Saying sex offenders are truly shunned in our society," as Jackson said to a defendant in a previous case she presided over, Hawley said, "it echos what you said as early as law school in that Harvard Law Review article."

Hawley then asked her whether she believes society is "too tough on sex offenders" and if they "truly are shunned."

Jackson defended her article as an analytical piece.

"Many years ago, as a law school student, I was evaluating a new set of legislation, state laws about registration," she said.

"I was analyzing them as law students do," Jackson told Hawley.

"It wasn't about the sex crime, it was about the characterization of the law," she said.

Jackson said: "I was evaluating these laws... to talk about the ways in which courts make determinations" for punishments for sex offenders.

"In law school, I had not had any experience in terms of the criminal justice system, and I was doing what law students do, which is seeking to analyze in a creative way," she said.

Hawley voiced concern over Jackson's history on child sex crimes before her hearings began this week.

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