Prominent African Americans gathered today to oppose Senate confirmation of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Dr. Dorothy Height, recent Congressional Gold Medallist, said, “I have always championed and applauded the progress of women, and especially of African-American women; but I cannot stand by and be silent when a jurist with the record of performance of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is nominated to a federal court, even though she is an African-American woman,” according to a LCCR press release. Other speakers at today’s press conference, including Julian Bond, chair of the board of directors of the NAACP, and Julianne Malveaux of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority National Social Action Commission, echoed Height’s sentiments and called on President Bush to stop prioritizing corporate interests above worker rights and civil rights.
Brown drew much criticism by the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for her outspoken antagonism toward 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. 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.