Transcripts of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s infamous child porn cases revealed

President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, faced the fiercest pushback from Republicans during her Senate confirmation hearings over her lenient sentences in child pornography cases.

Now, stunning transcripts from those cases published Saturday by the New York Post show that she chose leniency in some of the most disgusting cases one can imagine, including those involving babies. 

“In the eight child-porn cases that came before her court, former D.C. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson heard horrifying details of ‘sadomasochistic’ torture of young kids — including ‘infants and toddlers’ — yet challenged the disturbing evidence presented by prosecutors and disregarded their prison recommendations to give the lightest possible punishments in each case,” the Post reported.

“Over and over, the records reveal, Jackson made excuses for the sex fiends’ criminal behavior and cut them slack in defiance of investigators and prosecutors — and sometimes even probation officers serving her court — who argued for tougher sentences because the cases were particularly egregious or the defendants weren’t remorseful.”

While the cases were generally known because Jackson was grilled on them by Senate Republicans, the Post’s article details the specifics of the cases for the first time. Democrats said the Obama appointee, who tried the cases between 2013 and 2021, gave individuals sentences that were in the “normal range” for offenders.

The facts don’t seem to bear that out, however.

Take the case of Christopher Michael Downs, who was convicted of distributing files that showed infants being sexually abused through a chatroom called “Pedos Only.” He also bragged about molesting his 13-year-old cousin and uploaded a video showing a young girl being orally raped by an adult.

Jackson acknowledged Downs was at “risk of reoffending” and refused “to take full responsibility” for his actions. However, she sentenced him to the minimum time possible, arguing that enhancements that could have kept him behind bars for a longer period of time were “outdated” and “substantially flawed.”

Even though she admitted the average sentence “for similarly situated defendants” was 81 months, she only gave him 60 months. Given time served, that would only be 38 months — a little over three years. He’ll be released this December.

In a 2021 case, Jackson sentenced child pornography distributor Ryan Manning Cooper, whose material was described by prosecutors as being “on the more egregious or extreme spectrum” of child porn.

“I’m really reluctant to get into the nature of the porn,” Jackson said during the sentencing.

“I don’t find persuasive the government’s arguments concerning why they think that this is a particularly egregious child pornography offense, which means I struggled to find a good reason to impose a sentence that is more severe in this case.”

Before sentencing him to the lower end of the spectrum, she gave “mitigating factors” in his favor, including family members who said Cooper was “kind, hard-working, dependable, loving. I have no reason to doubt those representations.”

“There are going to be a lot of restrictions that the law places on you because you are a convicted sex offender, and you’re going to need the support of these people during this next phase of your life,” she told him.

And in many of these cases, the transcripts revealed, she said the federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography cases were “outdated” or “too severe.”

Mike Davis, the president of the Article III Project — which advocates for judges that follow a strict constitutional standard — said this was yet another demonstration of why Jackson is a bad pick for the court.

“She served as the tip of the spear in weakening federal sentencing policy for child pornographers as vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, where she ignored the advice of expert witnesses who disputed her theory that child pornographers are somehow not pedophiles,” Davis said.

“She’s clearly not a mainstream judge. After she heard details of sex torture of young kids, including babies, she nonetheless disregarded the official sentencing guidelines and prosecutors’ recommendations to give rock-bottom sentences in eight of eight cases,” he continued,

He added that the judge seems “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 right now.”