The Lead

Pa.’s Toomey says he’s a ‘no’ on confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court

By: - April 3, 2022 7:05 pm

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., meets with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in his Capitol Hill Office on Thursday, 3/31/22 (Photo courtesy of Toomey’s office).

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Sunday that he will vote against confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying he’s concerned about what he described as her “history of judicial activism,” while serving as a federal judge.

“While Judge Jackson undoubtedly has an impressive educational and professional background, her inability to define her own judicial philosophy makes it difficult to understand how she might approach the most important cases facing the nation today, tomorrow, and far into the future,” Toomey said in a statement his office released on Sunday evening. “Rather than confine herself to one philosophy, Judge Jackson has only offered a ‘methodology’ that is ultimately unhelpful for determining what her foundation is for interpreting statutory and Constitutional text.”

He added: “Judge Jackson’s history of judicial activism is also highly concerning, and has led to at least two unanimous decisions by separate panels of the D.C. Circuit overturning her rulings for reaching beyond the scope of her authority.” 

Pa.’s Toomey meets with Ketanji Brown Jackson, concerned whether she’ll ‘serve as a neutral umpire of the law’

Toomey also echoed Republican criticisms of Jackson’s treatment of child pornography offenders, saying the “fact that Judge Jackson has consistently imposed sentences for offenses related to child pornography not only far below those recommended under the Sentencing Guidelines, but also below the recommendations of prosecutors and the sentences imposed by some of her peers on the federal judiciary, is baffling to me.”

During her confirmation hearings, Jackson defended her sentencing decisions, saying that while she served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the federal agency examined “the federal statute through the lens of how much more easily accessible it is to acquire child pornography through the internet and that courts are taking that under consideration when leveling sentences,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

“The way that the guideline is now structured based on that set of circumstances is leading to extreme disparities in the system because it’s so easy for people to get volumes of this kind of material now by computers,” Jackson said, according to U.S. News & World Report. “The commission has taken that into account and perhaps even more importantly, courts are adjusting their sentences in order to account for the changed circumstances, but it says nothing about the court’s view of the seriousness of this event.”

Toomey, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, will retire at year’s end, putting control of the 100-member chamber in play. A slew of Democratic and Republican hopefuls are contending in a nationally watched race to succeed him.

Jackson, 51, would be the first Black woman if she wins confirmation by the full Senate. She faces a key vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Toomey met with Jackson in his Capitol Hill office on March 31. In a statement his office released after that meeting, the Lehigh Valley Republican said he was concerned whether she would “serve as a neutral umpire of the law,” if she won confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

In that statement, Toomey said he ““[looked] forward to further reviewing her record before arriving at a final decision.”

By Sunday night, he made up his mind, saying, “Due to Judge Jackson’s admitted lack of judicial philosophy, her concerning judicial record, and the likelihood she will continue to reach beyond the limited role of the judiciary, I cannot support her appointment to the Court.”

Pennsylvania’s senior United States senator, Bob Casey Jr., of Scranton, is a “yes” vote for confirmation.

Jackson “has spent her career fighting for a more equitable and just America and will carry that vision on the Supreme Court. She comes to this position with a breadth of experience and an unwavering dedication to the law. I am honored to support her nomination,” Casey said in a Feb. 25 statement, according to the Washington Post.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.