Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday told President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Kentanji Brown Jackson that if her views from law school were applied broadly, “civil commitment laws across the country would be struck down, releasing sexual predators.”
Cruz brought up her 1996 Harvard Law Review note during the second day of Jackson’s confirmation hearing, reading aloud excerpts from her major academic worked entitled “Prevention vs. Punishment: Toward a Principled Distinction in the Restraint of Released Sex Offenders.” Cruz argued that Jackson was advocating for the idea that the regulated release of sex offenders — which can require them to register with local law enforcement officials, notify community members of their presence, undergo DNA testing, and submit to civil commitment for an indefinite term — could be seen as unconstitutional if the regulations are viewed as punitive rather than preventative.
“If the views you advocated for in law school prevailed, civil commitment laws across the country would be struck down, releasing sexual predators. And under the argument, community notification and DNA bank laws could well be struck down as well. Is that an outcome that should concern people?” Cruz asked Jackson.
Jackson said she “was not advocating for the striking down of those laws.”
“My note was trying to identify criteria that I thought could be applied consistently to determine whether the laws were punitive or preventative,” she said, later stating that she was looking at four different kinds of laws and did not label them all “punitive.”
In response, Cruz narrowed his critique down to Jackson’s law school take on Civil Commitment laws.