In a 12-7 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Judge D. Brooks Smith to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The nomination will now head to the Senate floor for a full vote. Numerous women’s rights and civil rights groups, including the Feminist Majority, opposed the nomination of Smith because of his anti-women’s rights record. These groups now vow to fight the nomination on the floor.
Judge Smith is an ardent opponent of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which originally gave a victim of gender violence the ability to sue her attacker in federal court. In a speech to the right-wing Federalist Society, Smith stated that a federal court should not be the forum for such lawsuits and federal laws should not try to protect women from violence. While a Federal District Court Judge, Smith also retained membership in an exclusive all-male club, the Spruce Creek Rod and Gun Club until 1999. Membership in an all-male club shows contempt for women’s equality that is incompatible with the responsibilities of a federal judge; such membership rightly causes litigants to question a judge’s ability to treat women fairly, especially women involved in sexual harassment or sexual discrimination cases.
Three Democrats joined Committee Republicans to vote in favor of Judge D. Brooks Smith: Sens. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Herb Kohl (D-WI), and John Edwards (D-NC).