The Washington Post's editorial board on Wednesday said Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have behaved "worse" during confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson than Democrats did for Brett Kavanaugh.
The editors said that while Kavanaugh was "credibly accused" of sexually assaulting a woman, "Republicans have smeared Judge Jackson based on obvious distortions of her record and the law" by bringing up her rulings involving child pornography and Guantanamo Bay detainees. Citing "clownish performances" by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), as well as the failure to confirm now-attorney general Merrick Garland in 2016, they said Republican senators "have done the most damage" in politicizing the Supreme Court confirmation process.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings were the most-watched televised event of the century for the Senate Judiciary Committee, with more than 20 million people tuning in. The hearings began with testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor and registered Democrat, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as a high school student in the 1980s.
Though often lacking corroboration, Ford's and others' testimonies frequently veered into lurid descriptions of alleged sex acts, including one sworn accusation of "gang rape." That accuser, Julie Swetnick, later contradicted her own testimony, saying she "didn't know what was occurring." The refutation of her sworn testimony caused senators on the Judiciary Committee to refer her to the Justice Department along with her attorney, Michael Avenatti, who is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for extortion.
Ford was represented by the Washington, D.C., law firm Katz Marshall & Banks, whose partner, Debra Katz, is known for her work with #MeToo accusers.
The Post's editors expressed muted praise for some questions from Sens. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) about judicial philosophy but accused Republicans of broadly smearing Jackson "as a friend of child pornographers, despite the fact that her sentences in their cases reflect the judicial mainstream."
The paper is referring to questions first posed by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), who has argued Jackson exhibits an "alarming pattern" of sentence reduction for child pornography offenders. She has also questioned whether sex offenders should have to enroll in public registries. The questions have prompted Grassley, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, to try to obtain records from Jackson's time spent on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
"Judge Jackson's service on the sentencing commission is an important part of her experience, so her records there must be part of a thorough review," Grassley said at a March 10 hearing. "This request falls squarely within the committee's normal practices."