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Kicking off a long day of questioning, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about her judicial philosophy as the Senate Judiciary Committee continued its Supreme Court confirmation hearings on March 22.
Watch the moment in the player above.
“I am acutely aware that as a judge in our system, I have limited power and I am trying, in every case, to stay in my lane,” Jackson said, before listing out the three steps she takes when she judges a case.
Jackson explained she first clears her mind “of any preconceived notions about how the case might come out.” She then evaluates the facts presented to her and considers precedent when ruling.
WATCH LIVE: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings — Day 2
Durbin also asked Jackson about her sentencing in child pornography cases, which some Republican senators, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., criticized in opening statements Monday as delivering insufficient punishment.
Jackson noted that child pornography crimes are some of the most difficult cases judges must decide. She added that judicial guidelines set by Congress require judges not to hand down the highest possible penalty, but impose a sentence that is “sufficient but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment.”
Jackson also said that it’s important to her to ensure that former child victims are represented in her sentences.
“I tell [defendants] about the victim statements that have come in to me as a judge. I tell them about the adults who were former child sex abuse victims, who tell me that they will never have a normal adult relationship because of this abuse,” Jackson said.
Durbin also raised Jackson’s experience as a lawyer representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, giving her a chance to explain why she took that role.
Jackson said she worked in the federal public defender’s office at the time, and told Durbin those lawyers do not get the option to decide who they get to represent.
“The people who were being accused by our government of having engaged in actions related to [the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks], under our constitutional scheme, were entitled to representation, were entitled to be treated fairly. That’s what makes our system the best in the world. That’s what makes us exemplary,” Jackson said.
Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden in February to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman on the high court. After opening statements from Jackson, her colleagues and the senators March 21, senators will spend two days questioning Jackson at length about her rulings and judicial philosophy. On the final day of the hearings March 24, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from friends and colleagues of Jackson about her temperament and approach to the law.
More on Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings from our coverage:
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