National Civil Rights Coalition Expresses “Grave Disappointment” at the Senate Confirmation of Judicial Extremist Jeffrey Sutton

Media 04.29.03

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Today, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, expressed grave disappointment at the Senate’s confirmation of Jeffrey Sutton to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

“Jeffrey Sutton is the latest and most extreme example of President Bush’s assault on the power of Congress to vindicate the rights of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and many others,” said LCCR Executive Director Wade Henderson. “Over the last several years, Mr. Sutton has become a leading activist in the so-called “states’ rights” movement and, as such, has personally argued key Supreme Court cases that, by narrow 5-4 majorities, have undermined Congress’ ability to protect Americans against discrimination based on race, age, gender, disability, and religion.”

“The civil rights community’s forceful opposition to the confirmation of Jeffrey Sutton marks an important milestone in our efforts to counter the rapid and radical restructuring of constitutional law and principles, the dismantling of civil rights laws, and the undermining of our democracy by new restrictions on the power of Congress,” continued Henderson.

Sutton’s advocacy has focused on challenging and weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a popular and important bill enacted by a bi-partisan Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. He has also argued against allowing private individuals to sue to enforce certain regulations of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin; for severe limits on the ability of state employees who are victims of age discrimination to recover damages; and against a federal remedy for victims of sexual assault and violence.

“Contrary to his assertions at his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sutton has done far more than merely represent the interests of clients who retained him,” said Henderson. “He has written articles, given speeches, and filed amicus briefs in several of the leading cases that have resulted in eroding Congress’ authority to protect civil rights.”

“For many years, the federal courts have been an important bulwark for safeguarding civil rights and liberties,” concluded Henderson. “Jeffrey Sutton will now have a lifetime to turn historic guarantees of individual rights and liberties into empty words.”