The Feminist Majority joined several civil rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights groups in a press conference today denouncing President Bush’s nomination of Judge Dennis Shedd to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The nomination of Shedd, who has a long history of anti-women’s rights, anti-civil rights decisions, will be voted on Thursday by the US Senate Judiciary Committee. Shedd is the latest in a string of far right extremists nominated by Bush to lifelong judicial appointments.
“In Dennis Shedd’s 11 years on the federal district court in South Carolina, he has demonstrated a hostility toward plaintiffs in civil rights cases, including minorities women and persons with disabilities, a desire to limit Congress’s authority to enact proactive legislation that is applicable to the states, and insensitivity to the issues of race,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who led the press conference. “Judge Shedd’s views on these issues renders him a poor choice for the Fourth Circuit.”
With a limited record on reproductive rights, Judge Shedd has refused to say that he believes that the Constitution guarantees a woman’s right to choose. He was specifically asked to clarify his views on abortion rights in written questions from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. However, in 1997 Shedd did vote against the right to privacy that forms the basis of Roe v. Wade when he ruled against the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) – a law that protects women, abortion providers and others from violence by barring state department of motor vehicles from releasing personal information about an individual without their consent.
Shedd has characteristically ruled against plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases, gender discrimination cases and civil rights cases. “I am very disturbed by the high number of Shedd’s rulings for the defendant in civil rights and gender discrimination cases,” Kathy Moore, spokesperson for the Charleston National Organization for Women (NOW), said in a statement. “He is a young judge and his appointment will have a long lasting and devastating effect on women and minorities in the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction.”
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is the court of last resort for South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. It is currently one of the most conservative courts in the country when it comes to civil rights and women’s rights, according to Charleston NOW.