EXCLUSIVE: A conservative outside group launched digital ads Friday against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson accusing President Biden‘s Supreme Court nominee of being too lenient on child pornography offenders and urging a dozen senators to vote against her confirmation.
The digital ads by the Article III Project, shared first with Fox News Digital, take aim at Jackson’s sentencing of eight child pornography offenders when she was a federal court judge and handed down prison time that was less than what prosecutors recommended and what sentencing guidelines allowed. In one case, the ad states, she ordered a three-month sentence when federal guidelines allowed for eight years in prison.
“Activist judges like Ketanji Brown Jackson are more concerned about the well-being of pedophiles than the safety of your children — and thanks to her, they may be living in your neighborhood,” the ad says.
Jackson’s sentencing on child pornography cases was the most prominent and harshest line of GOP questioning over two long days of testimony last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all brought up the issue in sometimes confrontational questioning during her confirmation hearings.
Graham cited Jackson’s “evasive” responses and decisions to not lock up these sex offenders for longer periods of time when he announced Thursday he’d vote against her confirmation. Graham last year was one of three Republicans who voted in favor of Jackson’s elevation to the D.C. appellate court.
The White House and Democrats have pushed back hard against accusations Jackson was too lenient on child pornography offenders, arguing that a handful of cases don’t capture the full record of Jackson’s time on the bench. They say Jackson’s sentences are in line with other federal judges, citing a 2020 U.S. Sentencing Commission report, that found less than 30% of non-production child-porn offenders received a sentence within the guideline range in the 2019 fiscal year.
They’ve also touted her endorsement from police organizations, such as the Fraternal Order of Police, to counter the notion she was too soft on criminals.
For her part, Jackson stressed the seriousness of the crime of viewing images of child pornography and said judges need to make individual decisions based on the circumstances of each case.
“Sentencing is a discretionary act of a judge, but it’s not a numbers game,” Jackson said last week under questioning at her confirmation hearing. She noted in each of the cases the Republicans raised concerns about, she had sentenced all the offenders to time behind bars.
The digital ads will focus on a dozen senators — both swing state Democrats and more moderate Republicans — including Republican Sens. Mitt Romney in Utah and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, who have not yet announced how they’ll vote on Jackson. The five-figure ad buy, which may expand to TV, will also target Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who have already said they’d vote “yes” to confirm Jackson.
The ads are also tailored to the pair of Democratic senators in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire.
“Any senator who votes to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court will be voting for someone who thinks child sex predators are treated too harshly according to federal guidelines,” said Mike Davis, founder and president of Article III Project. “There is not a punishment harsh enough for these monsters.”
Davis said Article III will continue to press the issue of Jackson’s sentences until the midterm elections.
“This will be a career-ending vote for many Democrats and Republicans if they support Judge Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court of the United States with her troubling and unvetted record,” Davis said.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates blasted this line of attack against Jackson, calling it “conclusively debunked” by legal experts and fact checkers. He pointed to several judges nominated by former President Trump who had similar track records on child pornography sentences because the guidelines are “widely considered out of date.”
“I was unfamiliar with the Article III Project,” Bates said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “But this dark money organization should have done their research before dishonestly attacking Judge Jackson for sentencing practices that are aligned with how most federal judges, by far, approach the same crimes — including Trump-nominated judges who the Article III Project itself supported.”
The Senate is expected to vote on Jackson’s confirmation next week. She’d make history as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.