WATCH: Ted Cruz, GOP senators clowned by Biden judicial nominee

Cruz, along with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley, tried to berate a lawyer for the Innocence Project

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published February 16, 2022 7:20PM (EST)

Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., along with fellow Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, on Wednesday attacked a judicial nominee who works to free wrongfully jailed people for advising "radical district attorneys who let violent criminals go," which he said results in "skyrocketing homicide rates."

"Do you care about the innocent people being killed because of the policies you're implementing?" Cruz asked Nina Morrison, a senior litigation counsel with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit that works to exonerate individuals who have been wrongly convicted. 

Morrison, who was tapped by President Biden for a lifetime seat in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, faced a series of acrimonious questions from Senate Republicans, who were determined to blame her progressive record for unrelated crime rates. 

RELATED: How Republicans unleashed a new crime wave in America — through worsening inequality

In the hearing, Hawley reportedly barraged Morrison with an array of scare-mongering snarl words like "murders" ,"throwing rocks", "gasoline", "assault", "looters," and "rioting," according to HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery. 

"I cannot support your nomination," Hawley apparently said, citing her "soft-on-crime" policies – which he alleged were a "pattern with [the Biden] administration." 

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The record shows, however, that the federal prison population and police funding has expanded under President Biden despite progressive calls to limit both. 

Cotton, notorious for his call to set the military on George Floyd protesters, also threw out fighting words during the hearing.

"Are you proud that you encouraged such defiance in convicted murderers?" the Republican senator asked Morrison, whose work has led to the exonerations of at least 30 people who were wrongfully convicted. In one exchange, Cotton challenged Morrison over the execution of Ledell Lee, an Arkansas man who was convicted for the murder of his neighbor in 1993. Back in 2017, Morrison casted strong doubt over Lee's prosecution, which she said overlooked "significant" DNA evidence suggesting that Lee was innocent. 

"[Lee] was convicted based on eyewitness testimony," Cotton fumed during the hearing. 

"Eyewitness identification, which you referenced, is actually the single leading proven cause of wrongful convictions," Morrison responded. 

RELATED: Is your memory good enough to convict?

Watch the exchange below: 

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Josh Hawley Republicans Ted Cruz The Innocence Project Tom Cotton