Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), following the committee’s long-standing practice for vetting Supreme Court nominees, has requested documents from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s service in a federal agency. Specifically, the senator requests documents and emails authored by the nominee during her service on the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).  

“By her supporters’ own accounts, Judge Jackson’s service on the sentencing commission is an important part of her experience, so her records there must be part of a thorough review. This request falls squarely within the committee’s normal practices,” Grassley said. “As I’ve said from the outset, I want a fair and thorough process. Failing to review categories of material that this committee examines during the normal course of vetting Supreme Court nominees is neither thorough nor fair to the nominee or the American people.”  

While the committee has received copies of open-source sentencing commission records, such as the volumes of sentencing guidelines, the committee has not yet received nonpublic records, such as emails and memos. The committee has reviewed nonpublic records from Supreme Court nominees’ prior federal service dating back to at least Justice Roberts. Justice Barrett did not have prior federal service.   

Grassley’s request was sent to the only serving commissioner and acting chairman of the USSC, Judge Charles Breyer, and to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero. His request mirrors the process and parameters of requests for documents made in the course of previous Supreme Court confirmations—including potential restrictions on the public release of such documents provided on a “Committee Confidential” basis.  

Additionally, the senator’s request intentionally excludes documents or emails sent or authored by federal judges or career USSC staff. 

From Grassley’s letter:  

“…the Committee’s interest is in Judge Jackson’s legal reasoning and views as they pertain to far-reaching policy decisions…” 

… 

“I recognize that reviewing the archives and producing these documents is a significant task, particularly under the timeframe set for this nomination hearing. I thank you in advance for your cooperation and efforts.”  

Both President Joseph Biden and Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have emphasized Judge Jackson’s service on the USSC as an important part of her experience, which she might “draw on” as a member of the Supreme Court.  

In recognition of the USSC’s normal procedures for the archive and release of its papers, Grassley notes the extensive lengths to which presidential libraries have gone to produce documents protected under the President Records Act in the course of Supreme Court nominations. 

Full text of Grassley’s document request can be found HERE.

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