DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, explained why he opposes Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court on a press call on Monday morning with A.J. Taylor of KIOW Radio in Forest City and Erin Summers of the Pocahontas Record Democrat.
Ketanji Brown was nominated by President Joe Biden to replace Associate Justice Stephen Breyer who announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.
Brown Jackson has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2021 as one of Biden’s first judicial appointments. Before that, she was appointed in 2012 by President Barack Obama as U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia. She has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate three times – twice as a judge and once to serve on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Brown Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Miami, Fla. She earned her A.B. in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1992 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1996. She also was a supervisory editor of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Jackson clerked for Justice Breyer and served as a federal public defender from 2005 to 2007.
Grassley voted to confirm Brown Jackson to the U.S. District Court in 2012, but voted against her confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2021. Grassley voted against advancing her confirmation to the U.S. Senate after her confirmation hearing as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Summers asked Grassley if one of the reasons he opposed her nomination was that she seemed to legislate from the bench and if there were other reasons.
“That’s one of three or four. So let me give you the other ones, and then I’ll explain the one you asked about. So you’re talking, there’s the area of soft on crime, not willing to take a position on the packing of the courts, not willing to take a position on what’s very basic to our Constitution, that people have natural rights that we get them from God, we don’t get them from the government. And the Constitution is written to protect the people from the government, and even not having a definition for the word woman is just one example,” he said.
Grassley pointed to his legislation, the First Step Act, passed into law as an example of Brown Jackson legislating from the bench.
“(The) First Step Act doesn’t allow any consideration of adjustment of sentences on retroactivity, and she applied that to some people that were convicted before the First Step Act was passed,” he explained.
“It was so bad when she was a district judge that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned her,” Grassley added.
Summers followed up, asking if Senators discussed passing mandatory minimum sentences for child pornography after her judicial record with some of those cases came to light.
“I don’t disagree with the criticism that you heard of her. But it seems to me that we’re in a position where mandatory minimums have less backing now than they did before. Now we’re talking about a law that was passed 30 years ago. And then, maybe 15 years ago, the court said to Congress it was unconstitutional for the Congress to put sentencing guidelines in. And you’re talking about stricter sentencing guidelines. We can have mandatory minimums, but telling judges how much they can sentence is a whole different issue,” Grassley answered.