Ketanji Brown Jackson

Tom Cotton's Absurd Question About Contacting a Heroin Dealer's Victims Reveals a Drug Warrior's Demagoguery

The mindlessly punitive senator grilled Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson about her resentencing of a drug offender.


Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) is a hard-line drug warrior who reliably resists every attempt to reduce sentences for people convicted of distributing arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants. Cotton even opposed the FIRST STEP Act, a package of modest reforms backed by then-President Donald Trump that passed the House and Senate in 2018 with overwhelming support; he was one of just 12 senators who voted against the bill. So it is not surprising that Cotton took issue with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's decision to reduce the prison term of Keith Young, a heroin/fentanyl dealer, under a sentencing provision that the FIRST STEP Act broadened.

Here is how the Republican National Committee (RNC) described Cotton's exchange with Jackson regarding Young's case during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: "Asked if she reached out to any of the victims of a heroin trafficker, Ketanji Brown Jackson dismisses the question by saying 'there were no victims.'" As we'll see, that gloss is highly misleading, and Cotton's question was absurd in this context.

That is par for the course with Republican attempts to portray Jackson (and Democrats generally) as soft on crime. Like Republican criticism of sentences that Jackson imposed on defendants convicted of possessing or sharing child pornography, Cotton's argument with Jackson about the Young case shows a complete disregard for nuance, context, and substantive policy analysis.

To judge the merits of Cotton's criticism, we need to consider the legal background of Young's case. In 2018, he was convicted of possessing one kilogram or more of heroin with the intent to distribute it. The prosecution sought a sentence enhancement under 21 USC 851, which applies to defendants with prior drug convictions. At her confirmation hearing, Jackson recalled that Young's prior conviction had happened "10 or 15 years before" and involved a "minor sentence." She said Young "had no criminal history" since that "old sentence." Jackson, then a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, nevertheless "followed the law, which said he had to go to jail for 20 years." The Section 851 enhancement triggered a 20-year mandatory minimum, which doubled Young's sentence.

Later that year, Congress enacted the FIRST STEP Act, which among other things allowed federal prisoners to directly petition courts for sentence reductions based on "extraordinary and compelling reasons." Previously, motions for sentence reductions had to come from the Bureau of Prisons. That provision, which also applies to elderly prisoners who have served 30 years or more, is commonly called "compassionate release." But a successful motion does not necessarily result in immediate release; it may just mean that a prisoner is released sooner than he otherwise would have been.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in "compassionate release" motions from federal prisoners, and Young filed one of them. Young asked Jackson to allow his release based on the threat posed by COVID-19, arguing that he was especially vulnerable because of his asthma and smoking history. Jackson rejected that request. But she decided to reduce Young's sentence to 10 years for what she considered an "extraordinary and compelling" reason: The FIRST STEP Act had changed the requirements for Section 851 enhancements so that Young's earlier conviction no longer would have triggered that provision. While that change was not retroactive, it meant that Young's prison term would have been half as long had he been sentenced half a year later.

When the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) examined "compassionate releases" during the pandemic, it found that the danger from COVID-19 was by far the most common reason cited for granting prisoners' motions. But in 3 percent of cases, judges cited "sentence-related reasons," typically based on the concern that the prisoner's term would have been shorter under subsequently enacted reforms that were not retroactive—the same rationale that Jackson cited when she reduced Young's sentence. The average reduction in those cases was nearly 20 years.

The USSC notes that "circuit courts have disagreed about whether changes in law
are a permissible basis for a sentence reduction." So there is a legitimate question of statutory interpretation here. But rather than focus on that issue, Cotton argued that Jackson was effectively trying to retroactively apply a sentencing reform that Congress had decided not to make retroactive. "You chose to rewrite the law," he said, "because you are sympathetic to a fentanyl drug kingpin who you expressed frustration at having sentenced to 20 years in the first place."

Even as he accused Jackson of disregarding what Congress had decided, Cotton called the FIRST STEP Act "a terrible mistake," meaning that Congress was wrong when it decided what an appropriate penalty would be for a defendant like Young. Cotton thinks it is patently outrageous that Young, who has served two and half years so far, "will be released seven and a half years from now" instead of serving another decade beyond that. Yet Congress overwhelmingly decided that defendants in Young's situation, going forward, should serve 10 years rather than 20.

If you think the war on drugs is fundamentally unjust, you probably will disagree with both of those penalties. But Jackson never took the position that people should not be imprisoned for selling drugs. Rather, she concluded, in light of the judgment Congress had reached, that 10 years was a more appropriate sentence for this particular defendant. Cotton obviously disagrees, but he also disagrees with almost all of his fellow lawmakers—and Trump, who bragged about signing the FIRST STEP Act—on the question of how severely drug offenders should be punished.

Exasperated by Jackson's failure to share his sense of justice, Cotton asked her, "Before you granted this fentanyl kingpin's motion to reduce his sentence, did you contact any of the victims from his case?" That is a bizarre question to ask in this context.

I get it: By Cotton's reckoning, selling psychoactive substances that Congress has decided to ban is not a victimless crime, given the role that drugs like heroin and fentanyl play in drug-related deaths. Never mind that the prohibition policy Cotton zealously supports contributes to those deaths by creating a black market in which potency is highly variable and unpredictable. And never mind that the same logic would condemn people who sell alcoholic beverages or cigarettes, both of which are implicated in more deaths annually than heroin or fentanyl. But even if you accept Cotton's moral reasoning (which Jackson presumably does, given that she has no qualms about sending drug dealers to prison), how was she supposed to answer his question?

Jackson began politely: "Senator, thank you for allowing me to address Mr. Young's situation." Cotton interrupted her, saying, "I asked a simple question: Did you contact the victims in his case or not?"

But it was not a simple question. It was a stupid question, since Young's case did not involve any identifiable victims, as Jackson pointed out: "I did not contact the victims in his case, because there were no victims. He committed a crime, a drug crime. There were no identifiable victims in his case."

This was all a setup for Cotton's grandstanding, of course. "Drug crime is not a victimless crime," he admonished Jackson. "A hundred thousand Americans were killed by overdoses last year."

Jackson had not claimed that drug dealing is a "victimless crime." She had merely pointed out the absurdity of Cotton's question, and she tried to reiterate her point: "There was no one to contact, because there were no identifiable—" Cotton interrupted her again, returning to his critique of her decision to resentence Young.

The RNC thinks this was a gotcha moment, and it's right. The exchange reveals the demagoguery of preening, sanctimonious, mindlessly punitive drug warriors like Cotton.

NEXT: Hearing Mike Pence Speak Won't Harm UVA Students

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  1. They are customers, not victims.

    1. I have mixed feelings about this, but it's hard to see someone who knowingly consumes a dangerous substance as a victim.

  2. she's not qualified dude.

    1. That's probably true. But Cotton's line of questioning was pretty stupid. I've been listening to some of the hearings on my drive home this week. Cotton's was probably the dumbest of what I've heard (I happened to hear only republicans asking questions). He kept asking questions that no judicial nominee is going to answer. Just stupid grandstanding. Kennedy's questions the next afternoon were pretty good, I thought.
      The only thing that matters is whether she'll respect the constitution and check the government (probably not). All this tough on crime grandstanding bullshit is pointless.

      1. The only thing that matters is whether she'll respect the constitution and check the government (probably not).

        If only someone would would ask her about that.

        1. Cornyn took her down that path.

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      2. yes. and also I'm half-tongue-in-cheek because SC is such a laughable watchdog for the government she probably truly *is* qualified to be one of those types

        1. Probably as qualified as who she is replacing. She doesn't seem to be stupid.
          My standards are a bit different. I want someone who will declare 90% of the federal government illegal. But even the most conservative justices won't touch that one.

          1. Probably as qualified as who she is replacing.

            That's pretty much where I'm at. Probably not worse than Breyer, and maybe even better in some ways.

            1. hopes are high.

          2. She seems smart enough to lie in regard to that line of questioning, at least. Not stupid? Hard saying. She seems about as insufferable as the people asking dumb questions, grandstanding, and going down on her because of her family, ethnicity, what have you.

          3. If she can't figure out how to say what a woman is, she's can't be all that bright.

      3. Well there's plenty of dumb democrat questions. John Ossof for example: He asked her to talk her brother, so she could kill 10 minutes talking about her great family, and then asked her to explain the difference between a Monarchy and a Republic.

        I don't usually watch these, but one party is asking a ton of government 101 questions, like, "Can you tell us what Freedom of the Press means?" while the other party is asking specific questions about her previous rulings. Maybe that's how they usually go, or maybe one part really needs basic concepts explained to them.

        1. As I said, I missed democrat questioning, but I suspected there was a lot of that. I did get to hear Booker's ridiculous pep-talk this morning on the news.

          1. You mean Booker's audition for the Oscars where he tried to fake a tear?

            1. I can only imagine we are talking about the same thing.

              1. To be fair that description could easily apply to at least half of Booker's speeches.

                1. I AM SPARTACUS!

                  1. I could've been a contender. I could've been somebody.

          2. Booker is a pretty good example of one of the younger folks exemplifying why term limits need to be set at a low number of years.

            1. Booker is a good example of why our civilization is collapsing.

            2. All term limits would do is keep more of the same types churning through the office. The problem is with the voters and term limits will exacerbate the situation rather than save them from themselves.

        2. Maybe that's how they usually go

          Indeed it is. "When did you stop raping children" followed by "what is it in your background that makes you so great?"

          1. Isn't that the same question to the Leftist activists?

      4. Then you missed Cory Booker cry and testify to his devotion to this nominee. That guy is more full of shit than any sitting US senator.

    2. She's not a pharmacist.

      1. Ah! Like Scotty in Star Trek.

    3. Qualified or not, that was still a ridiculous question.

      1. Okay, that reply wasn't supposed to show up here.

    4. Oh I'm sure you're the person to know Dillinger.

      1. It’s obvious to anyone who isn’t a brainless democrat follower.

  3. I was hoping for another piece promoting the "lenient sentences for CP enthusiasts" aspect of the Koch / Reason soft-on-crime #EmptyThePrisons agenda. But I suppose this will do.


    1. Observe that God's Own Prohibitionists in every case are whining that she failed to cage, imprison or execute someone for a vice that is only a crime when coercive superstition successfully overcomes freedom and reason. What better confession of cruel totalitarian intentions could you ask for?

      1. "a vice that is only a crime when coercive superstition successfully overcomes freedom and reason."

        Hold the fuck up!
        Are you seriously saying child pornography is only a crime because of coercive superstition?

        1. Hank either wants to murder babies or fuck them.

  4. Glad you finally got on this one and off of the questions being asked by Hawley. This was an absurd and embarassing line of questioning from Cotton that shows just how out of touch he is. And of course "victims" of a drug dealer are people who, by definition, bought an illegal substance, so they will not be coming forward. And Cotton called a guy who had one prior conviction a habitual offender, a drug kingpin, etc etc. He sold things to people who wanted to buy them.

    There is an interesting distinction here in that she may have exceeded judicial authority by lower the sentence of a prisoner due to the passage of a law that said it cannot be applied retroactively. She still used it as a mean to reduce a sentence below what was legally required. We could call that judicial activism and it seems like it could be grounds to impeach her from the bench.

    1. And of course "victims" of a drug dealer are people who, by definition, bought an illegal substance, so they will not be coming forward.

      Since if they did, Mr. Cotton would happily throw them in jail.

    2. It kind of works for this writer, though. It's a double punch because, obviously reason's writers have been given marching orders to carry water for this nominee, and Sullum is a big 'ol stoner who has always been about legalization. One, two, got my quota in.

      Cotton is fish in a barrel here. But really it just deserves a "You're a dumbass" and move on. I wonder if they'll publish four more of these like they did with Hawley.

      1. Cotton is a knucklehead. This entire piece was worth a paragraph. Sullum's pathetic cp rights fetishism, honestly, maybe one article, and one written in terms of individual rights. Not written in terms of what Sullum doesn't like about the questioning, or about what could be, if only those pesky laws wren't what they were, because there are no victims in the creation/distribution/possession loop, damn it.

    3. Cotton didn't get into it but the victims of drug sales are the community members, that implored Congress to impose more severe penalties, to try to rid their neighborhoods of the destructive influences that come with street drug sales and use.
      Despite all the abstract libertarian sympathies against the war on drugs, there can be no denying that communities, that have rampant drug usage, suffer greatly from the consequences.

      1. Despite all the abstract libertarian sympathies against the war on drugs, there can be no denying that communities, that have rampant drug usage, suffer greatly from the consequences.

        And how's that War on Drugs working out for them?

      2. The concerns of the communities center around the crime. Perhaps it's the illegality of the drugs that is causing the problems, not the drugs themselves.

      3. So, its a good thing then that we've put more people in prison per capita so that these people can get the help they need in the federal prison system, eh? I mean, there's no better option, right?

    4. Dr Tara Smith of U. of Texas at Austin has a different take on judicial activism. Today's republicans recoil in shock at any questioning of bigoted Comstockery and racial pseudoscience. Naturally they are all bent out of shape that cruel medieval laws might be repealed.

  5. Drug dealing is a victimless crime.

    1. What if it’s heroine laced with fentanyl and the consumer thinks it’s pure?

    2. You need to spend a year living in one of the poor, black neighborhoods of any big city.

      1. Those people are victims of the war on drugs and teacher’s unions.

        1. ^

        2. Not to mention the waste and corruption of city governments. And let's not forget the government policies that have chased industry and commerce away.

          1. Yes, it's certainly not the rampant crime and gangs. /s

        3. "Those people are victims of the war on drugs and teacher’s unions."

          The gang members who shoot up neighborhoods would all get college degrees in engineering if we just legalized drugs. And the rapists, burglars and other miscreants are all members of teachers' unions. Get rid of the teachers' unions and, just like that, they stop being criminals.

          1. There’s nothing in between shooting up neighborhoods and having a degree in engineering. So that was a good point.

            Obviously the war on drugs and teacher’s unions have little to do with rape, but it does make you look extra stupid to bring rape into the conversation as a counter to nothing I’ve said.

            “And the rapists, burglars and other miscreants are all members of teachers' unions.”

            I think you might be a victim of teacher’s unions and not even know it. Or maybe it’s genetic.

      2. Yeah, ending prohibition didn't end moonshining or bootlegging, it did decrease it but didn't end it. It didn't even end the mobs involvement. Ending prohibition, no matter if I do support it, doesn't mean an end to crime, or the black market, especially if the states overtax and regulate the legal shit. The criminals will continue to sell black market drugs, and will also find other criminal activity to make up their losses.

        1. Prohibition was ended but alcohol remained highly regulated. In any case, there will always be a black market for most anything. People are always looking to make a buck or game the system.

          1. That's my point.

      3. You need to spend a year living in one of the poor, black neighborhoods of any big city.

        Personally, I came to the conclusion that there is no greater scourge on the Poor than alcohol. Seems rather obvious, really.

        1. We should try banning alcohol.

          1. Can't we just put up signs that say Gun Free Zone, Alcohol Free Zone, Crime Free Zone, Microaggression Free Zone and Honky Free Zone instead?

        2. Really it's people who prefer spending their very limited money on any form of intoxicant, rather than on bettering themselves and improving their situation.

  6. Jackson recalled that Young's prior conviction had happened "10 or 15 years before" and involved a "minor sentence." She said Young "had no criminal history" since that "old sentence."

    Yeah, we're not talking about a ten year old off-color tweet here.

    1. But did she see if he talked about boofing in his high school yearbook? That could be the critical detail in his sentencing.

      1. ...or if the "boofer" lied about what boofing means?

        1. The Horror!

  7. Seems Cotton has more of an ax to grind with his own Congress than this Judge making a tough but justifiable and totally within her discretion to impose the now required 10 year sentence vs the 20 under the old law.

    1. I'm actually questioning whether that decision was actually within her discretion. I'm not sure if she was legally justified in reducing the sentence using a law that was not meant to be applied retroactively. I'm not super torn up about it because it's the outcome I'd prefer, but she might have actually exceeded her authority. It's something that might be more interesting to look into than Cotton's stupid, "But what about the victims?" bullshit.

      1. She's a judge, and judges can do whatever they want because The Constitution or something.

    2. If the idea is to let looter politicians replace the judiciary with mandatory minimums, especially for vices that are not crimes (absence of mens rea), then installing computers to replace judges would make perfect sense.

  8. Still waiting to see if Sullum will address the allegations that the Supreme Court is ruled by Dark Money, though. Cotton said a bunch of stupid things, but Leahy, Durbin, and Klobuchar are also saying tons of stupid and offensive shit during this thing.

    Apparently asking The Federalist society for recommendations, because you like their work, is akin to going into a smoke-filled backroom and negotiating a sleazy deal. The Koch brothers are supposedly part of a far right cabal seeking to overthrown the judicial system for donating to them.

    1. Man, those Koch brothers get around (even teh dead one apparently). I hear they are also behind a sneaky cabal of pedophiles and illegal immigration enthusiasts.

      1. David Brock, is that you?

      2. "I hear they are also behind a sneaky cabal of pedophiles and illegal immigration enthusiasts.

        The way the last few years have gone I'd no longer be surprised.

        1. The remaining Koch does serve as Soros' footstool after all

    2. Sullum isn't going to comment on Leahy, Durbin, and Klobuchar. That would mean that their ignorant twaddle was as bad as the stuff he called out.

      1. I've never heard of these. Might they be looter politicians from the wrooong faction of The Kleptocracy?

  9. Perhaps the GOP can learn from the Democrats and engage in a more dignified form of critique against SCOTUS nominees.

    1. Good one.

      I'd be happy if they'd just stop asking stupid questions that anyone who pays any attention to these things knows no judicial nominee is going to answer. I think Kennedy had the right idea. Ask about specific rulings that she is on the record with. There's no reason not to answer those questions and they actually tell us something about what she's like as a judge.

      1. She refused to answer about a specific case Ted Cruz brought up. So that doesn't help either. She referred to documents the panel is not privy to.

        1. I didn't notice her participating in that exchange in any way. That was an exchange between Cruz and Durbin. Who know what she would have said had she been given an opportunity to speak?

          1. And Durbin had the right of it, also. Cruz likes random, spurious allegations that people are afraid of the truth, when his colleagues could easily have circled back to that question to get her to answer. The answer would not have been particularly illuminating, though.

            Cruz is an ass. If I was going to be on trial, I'd hire him as my attorney in a heartbeat, but there's other situations where he does more harm than good.

    2. Quite frankly, after the last two nominations there apparently is no bar. She is qualified but even if she weren't she'd probably get on SCOTUS.

      If you can have a rapist and a religious zealot be confirmed without issue then really, what are we doing here?

      1. You’re a toxic idiot. Only a retard democrat could possibly believe the flimsy pablum you’re fed by your masters.

  10. Why is reasons coverage of opposing questioning so much harsher than rape conspiracy under Kavanaugh where they kept the claims of credibility at the forefront?

    1. Why are they covering Republican senators asking questions more than the actual nominee for the Supreme Court?

      1. She has indeed made bad statements such as it being the job of the judge to adjust sentencing if the legislature takes too long.

      2. Because they're partisan Leftist hacks and looking at the nominee in any depth would risk exposing the racist marxist they so desperately want on the bench.

    2. Considering the questions thus far are pretty well bullshit but the questions surrounding Kavanaugh's character and finances weren't....

      But hey, you keep fighting for "your side."

      Or, maybe, just maybe, admit old Boof is certainly not fit to be on the court.

      Could've nominated any number of highly qualified people but they chose Boof. Maybe they should've done more due diligence on their end before then. But then maybe someone has something over him for his rulings. Knowing full well his demons maybe there is leverage to be exerted on him.

      But hey- don't let your feeble mind think that far. Just go along and say it's all made up and he's just a stand up guy.

  11. "But it was not a simple question. It was a stupid question"

    Is this the same Jacob Sullum who was totally cool with the Democrats claiming Kavanaugh ran a secret gang rape cartel?

    Is this the same Jacob Sullum who was totally cool with the Democrats attempting a religious test on Amy Coney Barrett and fretting about her Catholicism?

    But ask a candidate a question about their judicial stances and that's just a step too far for Mr. Sullum.

    Fucking hypocritical hack.

    1. I'm fine with bashing Cotton from all angles, though. It's well-earned. The man is an idiot and authoritarian.

      1. So is Sullum

      2. Okay, Cotton's a retard, but that doesn't change the fact that his questions were relevant however stupid, and that Sullum is being a hack and lying hypocrite here.

    2. Kavanaugh wasn't accused of that. Your hyperbole shows you're just a mindless MAGAt.

      Barrett had made multiple statements on her faith and how it related to her career. They were reasonable questions. Jackson was also asked about her faith even though she's made no similar statements.

      1. "Kavanaugh wasn't accused of that"

        Your either an idiot or a liar. Not only was he accused of exactly that, it was repeated uncritically by the Reasonistas.

        "Barrett had made multiple statements on her faith and how it related to her career"

        So fucking what? The Democrats were absolutely not allowed to make a candidates religion an issue and they went ahead anyway. A Buddhist SCOTUS candidate can publicly credit their Buddhist faith, but a senator absolutely can't make it an issue at a confirmation hearing, and that applies to Catholicism too.

        Now fuck off, DNC shillbot.

  12. Now just you wait a Cotton picking minute.

  13. Supreme Court Justice nomination hearings are grandstanding jokes, period, whoever is in charge. The vote is party line, always will be, just do it and spare us the circus side show

    1. ^

      I think most of the Senators simply see it as free camera time, which will save them money when it comes times to start putting together campaign ads. The fact that there's also a Supreme Court nomination process going on doesn't really matter to anything.

    2. Spartacus has spoken...T Bone was a bad dude

    3. Well, except one sides' circus side shows always seems to involve witnesses "discovered" at the 11th hour making "credible" sexy allegations.

      1. Yeah, one side likes to have character assassination/slander as one of the acts in their circus.

  14. Republicans are proving highly adept at making me feel good about a Dem nominee.

    1. Really. Ted Cruz and this Cottonmouth bigot are enough to make Idi Amin look good compared to anyone Lyin' Ted seeks to suck up to.

    2. I prefer to judge a Supreme Court nominee on their belief in the constitution and how they apply that, but hey, if you want to judge her based on how much you hate Republicans, it’s a free country. For now.

  15. Dear Author:

    Why on god's green earth are you shilling for this brain-dead virulently racist piece of unqualified affirmative action GARBAGE for a position for which she is so patently (forgive me) SUPREMELY unqualified? Do we really need another 70 IQ fake who despises America and thinks the Constitution is "trash" on the highest court in the land--isn't the Wide Latina enough?

    Seriously--what is your end game here? Why are you going all in for this poisonous joke of a nominee????

  16. At first I was pretty skeptical about ms affirmative action, but Republicans are doing an amazing job of making her look like one of the more intelligent people in the room and I'm kind of impressed at her lack of taking the bait. It's such a pity no one wants to query her about substantive things. The worst part is how sad the phony outrage from Republicans has been. Really, the worst thing you can try to pin on someone is that at some points in their past they showed mercy or defended people accused of crimes? Not even a bogus rape accusation? Team Red is really dropping the ball. They could at least accuse her of being a whore or something.

    1. What is it about this nominee that brings all the pedo apologists out of the woodwork?

      1. Have you stopped beating your wife?

      2. You can take the libertarian out of a leftist, but you can't take the leftist out of a leftitarian

      3. I don't know---Nelson is the guy you want to ask he would know.

    2. Agreed. They should not have wasted their time questioning her on her decisions as a judge and gone straight to the rape allegations, er I mean calling her a whore.

  17. it is amazing that Reason apologizes for the left constantly and the authoritarianism they spread...but God forbid any anti pedo rhetoric and Jake freaks out. Open boarders, abortion and the destruction of traditional values with NO dissent allowed by big tech seems to be the voice of Reason these days.

    She doesn't belong on the's tribe or gender (yes there are two genders) don't quality one to be a SC judge just so white libs feel better about themselves. Not being able to state what a woman is pathetic. She had a few kids..did her husband?

  18. IMHO the most interesting line of questioning was the Senator that asked her if she could define "woman". The press and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) thought it was a silly side-show question. But it wasn't. Democrats constantly harp on about "women's rights", especially those enshrined in the constitution. If this nominee is going to be making decisions which could affect women's rights, wouldn't it be helpful that she had a working definition of a 'woman'?

    "Oh, but Diane Reynolds, you dashing, thoughtful and wise interlocutor of vaguely defined gender, supreme court justices might make decisions based around racial minorities, can you define "black person?" I hear you say.

    No I cannot, or perhaps better said, I will not, because the Supreme court should not be making any decisions around specific minorities, and the constitution shouldn't be interpreted in such a way either. All are equal before the law. So the fraught definition of "black people" isn't necessary. That's why we're supposed to be a color-blind society.

    "Yes, but Women have a right to an abortion, according to Roe V Wade, so that is a landmark ruling which applies specifically to women, and women only!"

    That is correct, which is one of the reason's it was a bad supreme court decision. It should have been left to the states. But we have it, it's here, and so I'll not waste my time on an 'ought' argument when we've already got the 'is' in place. So again, if there's a landmark ruling that applies to women only, then it probably behooves our justices to have a fucking working definition of the Demographic the landmark ruling applies to... no?

    1. But that's not so. In a regime that enforces against sex discrimination, you can no more discriminate against a man than you can a woman. Abortion, under Roe, is a right because government is not permitted to stick its nose into individuals' bodies without a good reason (for now). That principle isn't affected if we're talking about a pregnant man.

      The real question is what do you and Republicans want to do about trans people. Culture, without any government help, seems to be moving to accepting trans people. So what would you like government to do to stop that? Be specific!

      1. Abortion, under Roe, is a right because government is not permitted to stick its nose into individuals' bodies without a good reason (for now).

        That is a factually incorrect statement, and coming from you, makes it particularly rich.

      2. The real question is what do you and Republicans want to do about trans people.

        If you can't define "woman" then you can't define 'trans woman', because you don't know what you transitioned from. QED

        1. So you want the US federal government to harass trans people and dictate what dictionaries should print?

          If all you want to do is complain about minorities, you can go do that at a KKK meeting where people want to hear it.

          1. We're ALL trans, Tony. We perform our gender roles.

      3. "because government is not permitted to stick its nose into individuals' bodies"

        Gosh Tony, that's not what you were saying when you were ranting about the moral goodness of vaccine mandates.

        1. His response is "That's teh good reasonz!"

        2. Government never required you to get a vaccine.

          1. That’s a lie nobody believes. Yet you said it anyway. I do find the psychology of someone who says things that are obvious lies, that they know nobody will believe, fascinating.

            I suspect that I would feel bad for any pets you have.

            1. So 25% of Americans are unvaccinated. Did I miss something and they're all in prison?

  19. Alternative title: Tom Cotton shows he's a demagoguing, constitution-hating POS.

    1. Is this Shrike's new sock?

  20. If prison time deterred crime, we'd have the lowest crime of any country.

    If only the morally corrupt committed crimes and deserved prison, you'd have to conclude that America is the most morally corrupt country that exists.

    What I don't get is why these scuzzy Republican assholes don't address the basic logic of their position. Do they only care about power for its own sake, or something?

    1. Weren't you just going on recently about locking up the unvaccinated and other badthinkers?
      Let me see if I've got you right, sodomize a child and no jail, don't get all four Pfizer jabs and we'll throw away the key.

      1. What's odd about you people is that you never even mention children except in the context of fucking them. What the actual fuck is wrong with you people?

        1. What a weird thing to say about people objecting to letting purveyors of child porn of easy.

          You do realize we’re talking about the actual sentencing of actual people found guilty of possessing actual child pornography, and not just talking about the subject rhetorically, right?

          I always knew you were a lying sack of shit. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised you’re sticking up for pedophiles though.

          1. See, I know where your bullshit talking point comes from. I know that there is no difference in sentencing child porn cases between judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats. I know that it's all a sick bullshit lie meant to appeal to QAnoners.

            But you seem to be totally unaware of the fabricated premise you're working from. How can you believe things that aren't real? How do you do this? It's unfathomable to me. You actually have beliefs just because a pundit on FOX News said something. It's fucking insane. You are so stupid.

            1. Okay groomer. People who are against lenient sentences for pedophiles are somehow advancing "sick bullshit".
              Your thought processes are pretty unique.

    2. Poor Tony. He was the child with the Hasbro toy that said "The dog goes meow!" and he believes it. He also can't define what a woman is, because, you know, he's not a biologist. But he can say that R. Levine is definitely a woman, proving that he is not a biologist.

      1. What do you want the US federal government to do to Admiral Levine and other trans people?

        1. Treat them exactly the way you want to treat people who disagree with you.

          1. Actually I want to treat them far better. I’d like to let them think and feel about themselves as they like, but don’t try to force me or others to submit to their fantasy.

    3. They are putting on a show, and their audience is eating it up.

    4. What I don't get is why these scuzzy Republican assholes don't address the basic logic of their position. Do they only care about power for its own sake, or something?

      This is rich, coming from a racist nazi.


    But the real problem is that it tells us one of two things.

    Judge Jackson, an intelligent woman, may have bought into the Marxist / deconstructionist worldview of unreality - of shape-shifting facts, the rejection of empirical truth to achieve a policy result.

    Unlikely. >

    More probable is that Judge Jackson is prepared to *pretend* that she believes such nonsense because that is the catechism of the day being recited in the Cathedral to which she is a committed acolyte.

    This is the more dangerous and troubling possibility.

    Why? >

    It is worse because while our Republic has survived many foolish judges and justices, this choice manifests a serious deficiency of *character* - an infinitely plastic morality.

    The insidious effect of this mindset has already spread throughout our culture and institutions. >

    Yes, anyone opposing Judge Jackson's elevation to SCOTUS will be labeled "racist" by the people who do that.
    But it is hard, if not impossible, to imagine that it will be the first or the last time that happens.

    If we achieve anything with our polemics here, let it be this: >

    That we make the "racist" trope recognized for the empty, cynical and desperate ploy that it is.
    That we do not shirk our own moral duty by avoiding the truth because of political and social orthodoxy and thereby become complicit in allowing it to reign.>

    And that we say what has to be said
    even if it means we are accused of doing something more insidious than expressing a public view
    about a public issue of widespread importance
    involving a highly accomplished, decent and intelligent product of her time and place >

    Who should not sit on the United States Supreme Court.

    1. But most Republican senators are going to vote against her. Are you whining that people on Twitter will call them racist for it?

      I don't know if they're being racist exactly. I do know that they've spent a week accusing a supreme court nominee of being pro-pedophilia and pro-terrorism.

      Stay classy, oh arbiter of decency in accusations.

      1. Yeah, whatever you do, don't ask a court nominee to defend the things they have done in court!!

        Only talk to them about things in their personal life. Preferably either innocuous or made up things from decades earlier. That is a much better way to go about things.

        1. Black people are to stupid to defend their decisions as a judge.


        2. There are only nine seats on the supreme court. You'd think Republicans could find an appointee who isn't a rapist.

          1. Given the wealth of evidence provided by Kavanaugh, I would say this is libelous, even given his status as a public figure.

            Not only did all of her witnesses deny that any such thing happened (including the party), the dude provided detailed calendars that also demonstrate that no such gathering ever took place.

            And if you are referring to Avanati's claims... Well, definitely libelous.

  22. Senator Cotton?
    Someone's gotta represent the out-of-touch neocon control freak right wing of the GOP.

  23. This entire line of criticism is stupid. A supreme court nominee should not be asked to defend her court rulings? Are you insane?

    If she can't do that, and do so fairly trivially, she has no business being on any bench. Judges do that routinely. That is why they write out their rulings with citations of the relevant case law.

    Cotton may be an idiot. His opinions on criminal justice may be excreble. But questioning her rulings is squarely in the middle of what he is supposed to be doing. And placing them in the best possible light isn't really his job either.

  24. I don't know about drug trafficking as "victimless." Tom Cotton's parents must have been into abusing some pretty serious stuff, and look at what the nation has been afflicted with as a result. America as victim...

    I watch a fair number of the Judiciary Committee hearings, and ol' Tom is as reliably stupid and mean on a day-to-day basis as he was at KBJ's hearings.

  25. Thanks for sharing this info.

  26. Whether it is the war on drugs, the war on terrorist, the war on climate or the war against another nation, politicians need wars to stay in power and keep spending the country broke. It won't change as long as everything is a war on something.

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