Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the latest Bush nomination, extreme conservative Janice Rogers Brown, to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Brown, currently a Justice on the California Supreme Court, has often been compared to conservative Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked Brown about the rightwing comments she has made in both public statements and in her judicial decisions and questioned whether she could be an objective judge on the bench.
Brown drew much criticism by the Democratic committee members for her shaky track record on women’s rights and civil rights. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) criticized Brown, saying that her “opinions are outside the mainstream of America.” In Aguilar v. Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., Brown argued that racially discriminatory speech in the workplace, even when it rises to the level of illegal race discrimination, is protected by the First Amendment.
The Feminist Majority joins a wide coalition of groups including the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, the National Bar Association, women’s rights groups, civil rights groups, environmental organizations, unions, disability rights groups and seniors’ rights groups in opposing Brown’s nomination. Opponents of Brown find her nomination particularly troublesome because the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is considered the second most powerful court in the country next to the Supreme Court, and is often a stepping-stone to the Supreme Court. Three of the nine current Justices – Scalia, Thomas, and Ginsburg – sat on the DC Circuit.