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March 26, 2022

Following up on just some of the sentencing discourse from SCOTUS confirmation hearings

Prior to this past week's Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, I had been pleased to see coverage of the US Sentencing Commission and the ways in which nominee Judge Jackson's service on the USSC might impact her future work if confirmed.  I have also long said that a nominee's experience as a federal district judge (and thus a sentencing judge) should be an asset to work as Justice.  But, while looking forward to a sentencing-related discourse, I ended up generally disappointed by what generally seemed like a failure by all Senators on both sides of the aisle to engage thoughtfully with the deep challenges and profound humanity of sentencing determinations.  

Helpfully, I have now seen a couple of press pieces picking up some of these themes.  Here are links and snippets:

By Dawinder S. Sidhu at The Baltimore Sun, "Senators questioning of Judge Jackson’s sentencing history during Supreme Court confirmation hearings reveals their own failures":

If anything, the senators’ questions highlight Congress’ failures in erecting the sentencing structure that federal judges across the country, including Judge Jackson, operate within. Once the confirmation process is over, the Senate should fix the very system that they criticize judges for following....

Judge Jackson should stand behind her sentencing decisions. So too should Congress step up and fix a system that only it is capable of repairing. It would be a shame for Congress to give attention to that system only when the cameras are rolling and the bright lights of the confirmation process are flashing. The American people, and the principled administration of justice, deserve more.

By Jessica Schulberg at HuffPost, "Ketanji Brown Jackson Was Right To Use Discretion On Sentences. Why Didn’t Democrats Defend It?":

When Republicans falsely accused the Supreme Court nominee of going easy on sex offenders, Democrats could have taken the opportunity to educate the public about the need for sentencing reform. Instead, they sidestepped the issue.

Some prior related posts:

March 26, 2022 at 10:50 AM | Permalink


In an election year, do we really expect any politician of either stripe to give any appearance of defending "sex offenders"? If any legislation is proposed, it will likely be for harsher penalties and more draconian punishments for this class of people (and I do believe they form a "class"). And as to sentencing, I think there will be a push by Congress to overturn Booker, taking away discretion from the judiciary. The "get tough on crime - hang'em high" mob will (as expected) be loud and obnoxious. Both sides will then try to out-macho the other and the rhetoric will likely be as absurd as the confirmation hearings (see: Graham, Cruz, Hawley, Cotton, Blackburn). I see little hope of any (very much needed) sensible, rational public policy being proposed. Elections do have consequences.

Posted by: Drug Cnslr | Mar 26, 2022 3:58:17 PM

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