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The AP Says GOP Is Attacking Biden SCOTUS Nominee for Showing 'Empathy'; Barely Mentions Who She's Empathetic To

  It wasn’t a difficult thing to call: If Republicans didn’t agree that President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jac...

 It wasn’t a difficult thing to call: If Republicans didn’t agree that President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, had a sterling record written in the milk of human kindness, they were absolute wretches — and the liberal media outlets were going to cover up any warts the GOP might have exposed.

Thus came this story from The Associated Press on Friday: “Supreme Court nominee’s ‘empathy’ is flashpoint for Senate.” The “empathy” that was such a “flashpoint?” Questions about low sentences Jackson gave to child porn offenders and lenient treatment for Guantanamo Bay detainees. The first part is barely mentioned by the AP; the second, not at all.


The first paragraph in the AP’s Friday story stated straight-up what the slant was: “Empathy is not a quality many Republican senators want to see in the next Supreme Court justice.

“Traditionally considered an admirable attribute, the ability to empathize with another’s plight has become a touchstone for GOP opposition to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson,” it continued, before noting that the most human moment of the whole affair was New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker talking about the happiness Jackson brought him. 

“Perhaps nothing more dramatically captured Jackson’s landmark moment than the image of the 51-year-old Black judge, tears streaming down her cheek, as the only Black member of the Senate Judiciary Committee spoke of the ‘joy’ her nomination brings to him and so many others,” the AP noted.

This is the nation’s — indeed, the world’s — premier news service. Their writer, Lisa Mascaro, is supposed to be doing straight, unbiased reporting on Jackson’s confirmation hearings. Instead, she seems to believe the only appropriate way to celebrate this momentous occasion is for the two parties to bicker about which one was willing to heap more praise onto her. 

It somehow manages to get worse: “But on the other side of the Senate, Republicans lining up to oppose the historic nomination are warning that Jackson carries too much empathy to the job,” Mascaro wrote.

“Jackson, Republicans have argued, shows compassion for criminal defendants she represented as a lawyer, and they have questioned whether that compassion extends to victims. They say she sentences criminals — in particular, child pornography defendants — too leniently as a judge, despite fact checks of her record that show she’s largely in line with protocol in most cases. They worry Jackson’s empathy will cloud her judgment on the high court.”

This is disingenuous for a number of reasons — but primarily because it assumes empathy in the courtroom is a one-way street and it must only be shown to defendants. Notice that mention of “child pornography defendants,” too. That was the only time that the kind of defendants Jackson showed undue “empathy” toward was mentioned by Mascaro.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what “empathy” looks like, starting with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, breaking down her sentences in child pornography cases where the judge had some say in how long they were sentenced and wasn’t handcuffed by mandatory minimums:

“Every single case, 100 percent of them, when prosecutors came before you with child pornography cases, you sentenced the defenders to substantially below, not just the guidelines, which are way higher, but what the prosecutor asked for on average of these cases, 47.2 percent less,” he said, noting some defendants got off with 80 percent less time than the prosecution asked for. 

“Do you believe the voice of the children is heard when 100 percent of the time you’re sentencing those in possession of child pornography to far below what the prosecutor is asking for?” Cruz asked.

Indeed — is that empathy toward the children? 

It’s also worth noting, too, the “empathy” she showed in a case where federal sentencing guidelines called for up to 10 years and the prosecution called for two years. As Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley noted, she only sentenced the 18-year-old in question to three months, and she all but apologized to him in the courtroom.

During the sentencing, Hawley noted she said that she didn’t think his crimes signaled “an especially heinous or egregious child pornography offense” and that she had “no reason to think you are a pedophile.”

“Then you apologized to him,” Hawley said. “And I just have to tell you, I can’t quite figure this out. You said to him, ‘This is a truly difficult situation. I appreciate that your family’s in the audience. I feel so sorry for them, and for you, and for the anguish this has caused all of you. I feel terrible about the collateral consequences of this conviction.’ And then you go on to say, ‘Sex offenders are truly shunned in our society.’ 

“I’m just trying to figure out, judge, is he the victim here, or are the victims the victims?” he said.

This was hardly all.

As The Daily Caller noted in a Tuesday report, “Jackson represented four alleged terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay during her time as a public defender, from 2005-2007. She also helped draft and file several amicus briefs on behalf of clients speaking in favor of the arguments made by Guantanamo Bay detainees. Although Jackson and Democrats have noted the constitutional protections provided to accused terrorists, Republicans argue that her defense of the detainees went beyond merely doing her job as a defense attorney.”

GOP Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina “called attention to a passage in a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Khiali-Gul, an Afghan detainee captured in 2002 and released in 2014,” the Daily Caller noted. 

“Jackson was a member of Gul’s defense team and helped draft the 2005 brief, which claimed that government officials committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against him. The brief lists ‘conditions of isolation; constant vulnerability to repeated interrogation and severe beatings; [and] the threat or reality of being kept in cages with no privacy,’ among other treatment, and names President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as chief defendants.”

“Why in the world would you call Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and George W. Bush war criminals in a legal filing?” Cornyn asked during his questioning. “It seems so out of character for you.”

Jackson said that she didn’t “intend to disparage the president or the secretary of Defense,” but that she didn’t remember the brief they mentioned.

If only she had spun it around: Sure, she called them war criminals, but she would have gone easy on them were she the judge. After all, she’s full of empathy — so long as you’re the defendant and not the victim.

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