Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory have embraced an attack some Senate Republicans have made against Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, which falsely alleges that she is soft on child predators.
In the days leading up to Jackson’s confirmation hearings in the Senate, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) misleadingly claimed in a series of tweets that Jackson has “a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker,” calling it an “alarming pattern.” As The Washington Post noted, Hawley’s claim “pretends a bipartisan recommendation is Jackson’s alone and then ignores a variety of factors — such as probation recommendations and out-of-date guidelines — that might result in lower sentences.” ABC News also found that Jackson’s sentences in child pornography cases were similar to federal judges who had been appointed by former President Donald Trump. Nonetheless, other Senate Republicans also pushed the claim during Jackson’s confirmation hearings.
Since Hawley made the allegation, supporters of QAnon -- a conspiracy theory whose core tenet is a belief that there is a cabal of pedophiles that includes Democrats, Hollywood figures, and other so-called “elites” -- have picked up the claim, even arguing that the attack will help “redpill the world.”
Soon after Hawley’s tweets, a user on a major QAnon forum highlighted the thread as proof that Jackson “has got a soft spot for pedophiles.” And in the days before Jackson’s confirmation hearings began, a QAnon influencer shared memes pushing the claim and urging followers to “start pushing these out.” And Zak Paine, a QAnon show host who participated in part of the Capitol insurrection, pointed to Hawley’s thread as evidence that she is an “apologist or someone who is looking to do judicial activism on behalf of child molesters and people like her colleagues in the Democrat Party who have successfully molested children.” Paine added that it is how “Democrats seem to keep elevating pedophiles and people who can change the laws surrounding punishment for people who are pedophiles.”
As Senate Republicans kept invoking the claim during Jackson’s confirmation hearings, QAnon supporters continued to push it, calling Jackson a “pedo protector,” a “pedo sympathizer” who is “soft on pedos,” and someone who has “made it her life’s work to protect pedophiles.” They also claimed that her nomination is evidence that “they’re coming for our children.”
Ron Watkins, a QAnon influencer who may have posted as “Q,” QAnon’s central figure, for a period of time, called Jackson “a pedophile enabler,” adding that “any Senator who votes to confirm her nomination is also a pedophile enabler.” Dustin Nemos, a QAnon influencer who co-authored an Amazon bestselling book about QAnon, also said Jackson was “defend[ing] child porn” and that it showed that the “mainstream Democrat Party” was “defend[ing] people who rape and spread child porn.”
As further evidence for the claim, some QAnon supporters also pointed to Jackson being the judge who sentenced the man who shot up a Washington, D.C., pizzeria based on his belief in the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which was a precursor to QAnon.
Some QAnon supporters also claimed this narrative about Jackson could help spread their beliefs. One QAnon influencer wrote that Jackson was “helping us redpill the world about the prevalence and depravity of child porn enablers,” and another wrote that this was “educating the public on crimes against children and how powerful people protect each other.”