Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) addressed President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s comments to a “career criminal” drug “kingpin” in 2018, in which she stated that she “shared his frustration” with regards to not being able to give him a lighter sentence, adding, “And for this, I am sorry.”
“Keith Young was a career criminal who had previously been convicted of trafficking cocaine,” Cotton explained during day two of Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
The senator elaborated:
In 2017, he was running a drug business in his house where his children lived, and was found with two one kilogram bricks of heroin, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, along with a gun, ammunition, thousands of dollars in cash, and equipment to cut and package heroin for retail sale. The drug lab also confirmed that there was fentanyl in both bricks of heroin. And in one of the two bricks there was actually more fentanyl than there was heroin.
At the D.C. jail awaiting trial, Young bragged about his arrest, and about how he was a “kingpin.” Those were his words, not mine. “Kingpin.” He was even recorded calling his wife and brother to give them instructions on collecting drug money from people for him.
Cotton went on to say that due to Young’s criminal history, “he faced a mandatory minimum of 20 years.”
“You did not seem to like that, judge,” Cotton told Jackson. “In fact, at his sentencing, you said that you ‘shared his frustration’ that you couldn’t give him a lighter sentence.”
“I was shocked to see this in the transcript,” the senator continued. “I was also shocked that you apologized to this drug kingpin for having to follow the law.”
“You literally said that you didn’t think 20 years was fair,” Cotton said. “This is the quote: ‘And for this, I am sorry, mostly because I believe in second chances.’ You apologized to this career criminal, a drug kingpin, in his own words. He was not some low-level, first time drug offender who made a bad choice.”
Cotton mentioned Jackson’s comments at Young’s 2018 sentencing on Tuesday, during her confirmation hearing, where the judge also would not answer the senator’s question regarding whether she believed the U.S. should strengthen “sentences for child pornographers.”