Statement on Janice Rogers Brown

Janice Rogers Brown's nomination to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has raised strong concerns within the environmental community


Doug Kendall, Community Rights Counsel, 202 296-6889


Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice, 202-667-4500 x 221

The following is information on today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to a lifetime seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. We hope this information will be helpful to you as the Senate reviews the nomination.

California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has raised strong concerns within the environmental community, based upon her record.

The importance of the DC Circuit to the future of our nation’s federal environmental protections cannot be overstated. The DC Circuit has the power – often the exclusive power – to hear challenges to health, safety, welfare, and environmental protections issued by federal government agencies. Except for the handful of cases that the Supreme Court agrees to review, the DC Circuit is the final arbiter of whether a federal protection will stand or fall.

Janice Rogers Brown’s rulings and views on constitutional issues put her on the far fringes of constitutional interpretation. In today’s nomination hearing, Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), Kennedy (D-MA), Feingold (D-WI) and Durbin (D-IL) discussed many of the same court opinions and speeches by Justice Brown that are cited in an environmental report These opinions and speeches indicate a willingness-indeed, a zeal-to inject these views into the case law, even in the face of binding precedent. The Senate must give Brown’s nomination to the environmentally-critical DC Circuit the closest possible scrutiny.

According to Community Rights Counsel’s Executive Director Doug Kendall, “Brown is a judicial activist with views that lie far outside the mainstream of even conservative legal thinking. Her views put in jeopardy our nation’s bedrock environmental protections along with many other hallmark legislative achievements of the Twentieth Century. This nomination should trouble conservatives and liberals alike.”

Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice’s Senior Legislative Counsel said Justice Brown “supports returning to the universally denounced, early 1900s Lochner-era when courts elevated corporate interests over individual rights; and believes that the Supreme Court’s 1937 decision that the New Deal was constitutional ‘marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution.'”

Additional information on Brown, including

  • Letter of concern from environmental groups to the Senate Judiciary Committee (10/21/03)

  • Letter from environmental coalition on the importance of the DC Circuit and the need to carefully review nominees (9/23/02)

  • Community Rights Counsel and Earthjustice Report on Janice Rogers Brown and the Environment (20 pages PDF document)

  • Editorials on the Janice Rogers Brown nomination

Additional Resources

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.