California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is one of the worst choices imaginable to serve in a lifetime seat on the second-most important court in America, according to according to leaders from the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary. On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the confirmation of Justice Brown to a lifetime seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which serves as the court of last resort for the vast majority of cases that impact our nation’s most fundamental rights, including environmental protections and the rights of workers, women, people of color, seniors, and persons with disabilities.
Except for the handful of cases that the Supreme Court agrees to review, the DC Circuit typically has the final say on whether national health, safety, environmental, civil rights, workers’ rights and women’s rights protections will stand or fall. As a result, the DC Circuit’s importance to the future of these protections cannot be overstated. Nominees for the DC Circuit should be given the same careful scrutiny that is expected of Supreme Court nominations.
"Justice Brown’s record clearly reflects hostility to the kinds of federal protections that safeguard clean air, clean water and special places," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "President Bush must take politics out of the courts and nominate judges who will preserve individual rights and uphold those protections."
In a press briefing today, a variety of organizations whose constituents are threatened by Justice Brown’s radical views provided compelling arguments for why the Senate should refuse to confirm Janice Rogers Brown to a seat on this important court.
"Janice Rogers Brown has a dangerous and extreme legal philosophy that is completely at odds with working families’ interests and values," said Jon Hiatt, General Counsel for the AFL-CIO. "Her appointment to the DC Circuit would put workers’ rights and fundamental protections at risk."
Janice Rogers Brown is a judicial activist with views that lie far outside the mainstream of even conservative legal thinking. Her views on constitutional issues—expressed in her speeches, judicial opinions, and testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee—place her on the outermost fringes of constitutional interpretation. As a judge on the DC Circuit, Justice Brown’s rulings could put in jeopardy many of our nation’s vital public safeguards, and threaten to overturn some of the hallmark legislative achievements of the Twentieth Century.
"Justice Brown’s hostility to established constitutional protections, individual rights, and long-standing legislative safeguards put women’s rights at risk," said Jocelyn Samuels, NWLC Vice President for Education and Employment.
"Justice Brown’s nomination is particularly harmful since the D.C. Circuit is considered the second-most important court in the land. The court considers a number of legal issues of pivotal importance to women, including affirmative action, right to privacy and reproductive choice, and protections against sex discrimination in employment."
"Justice Brown has long championed the rights of corporations over people, ideology over individuals," said Jim Ward, Founder and President of ADA Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights. "Her extremist agenda is evident in her outspoken attacks on programs vital to people with disabilities such as Social Security and Medicaid."
- supports elevating corporate property rights to a level that is on a par with fundamental individual rights like free speech.
- believes that the Supreme Court’s 1937 decision upholding the New Deal as constitutional "marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution."
- wrote in a solo dissent that private property, "already an endangered species in California," is now "entirely extinct in San Francisco" and accused the city of implementing a "neo feudal regime." Her sweeping assertion that "restriction of any one of the several rights that constitute private property in effect takes that property," threatens a wide range of fundamental safeguards.
- denounced government as the "drug of choice" for "single moms," "Midwestern farmers," and "militant senior citizens," and described the federal government as a "leviathan" that is "crushing everything in its path."
- Has attacked a broad category of cases in which fees are placed on industry to serve the public good. For example, as an appeals court judge, she argued that fees assessed against paint manufacturers under the (CA) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 1991 were an unconstitutional "tax" under California law. She was later overturned by a unanimous California Supreme Court.
- stated that "[t]oday’s senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren" to "get as much ‘free’ stuff as the political system will permit them to extract."
"Janice Rogers Brown is Plan B—a stealthy back-up strategy—for the forces who are bent on undoing Social Security, Medicaid, long-term care and other essential safety net guarantees on which older Americans depend," said Simon Lazarus, Public Policy Counsel for the National Senior Citizens’ Law Center. "If Congress can’t be persuaded to roll these programs back, Janice Rogers Brown would stretch every authority at her disposal to eliminate these protections."
Read editorials and commentary expressing concerns about Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals
Read more about Janice Rogers Brown
The Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary is an Alliance of Civil Rights, Human Rights, Labor, Environmental, Religious and Women’s Organizations Additional contacts:
Jim Ward, ADA Watch, (202) 415-4753 (cell)
Christy Setzer, AFL-CIO, (202) 637-5142
Doug Kendall, Community Rights Counsel, (202) 296-6889, x 3
Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice’s Judging the Environment Program, (202) 667-4500 x 221
Jenice Robinson, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, (202) 319-3021
Leslie Proll, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, (202) 682-1300
Jocelyn Samuels, Vice President for Education & Employment, National Women’s Law Center, (202) 588-5180
Simon Lazarus, Public Policy Counsel, National Senior Citizens’ Law Center, (202) 736-8344
David Willett, Sierra Club, (202) 675-6698