Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Controversial Judicial Nominee

Thomas Griffith, nominated to a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, faced the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Griffith has been widely criticized for failing to obtain a license to practice law in Utah when he served as a lawyer for Brigham Young University Griffith. When questioned about this at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he said that he never thought it was needed for him to obtain a Utah law license, reports the Washington Post. Griffith also said that he lost his DC law license because he did not pay bar association dues. “This conscious and continuous disregard of basic legal obligations is not consistent with the respect for law we should demand of lifetime appointments to the federal courts,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, also noting that Griffith passed up 10 opportunities to take the Utah bar exam, reports the Associated Press.

Griffith is one of 12 controversial circuit picks renominated by President Bush, seven of whom had been filibustered, reports the Legal Times. Griffith was first nominated in June 2004, but was never voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Feminist Majority joined with over 30 women’s and civil rights groups to call upon US senators to oppose Griffith’s nomination. Griffith is a staunch opponent of Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. He served on President Bush’s so-called Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which was stacked with opponents of Title IX. The Commission ultimately recommended measures that would have weakened enforcement of the law. However, because of the outpouring of support from women’s groups and women athletes, President Bush was ultimately forced to instead reaffirm Title IX. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is considered the most powerful federal appeals court because it has jurisdiction over federal legislation, including Title IX.

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Associated Press 3/8/05, Legal Times 3/7/05, People for the American Way 3/7/05, Washington Post 3/9/05

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