Statement of Dr. Dorothy Height, President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, on Opposition to Janice Rogers Brown

Media 11.5.03

Good Morning. I am Dorothy Height, President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women and Chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. For more than 50 years, I have worked to advance the liberation of women and social justice for all Americans.

Throughout my life, I have been committed to rising above the imposed limitations based on race and gender, and have endeavored to fulfill the mission of the National Council of Negro Women to advance opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families, and communities. Many of the advancements we have worked for in the last half-century have been achieved not only through federal legislation, and direct action, but from landmark court decisions, which brings me to why we are here today.

Every individual who sits on the federal bench is entrusted to uphold laws and precedents aimed at breaking down barriers for all Americans. I have always championed and applauded the progress of women, and especially of African-American women; but I cannot stand by and be silent when a jurist with the record of performance of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is nominated to a federal court, even though she is an African-American woman. In her speeches and decisions, Justice Janice Rogers Brown has articulated positions that weaken the civil rights legislation and progress that I and others have fought so long and hard to achieve.

Not only is Justice Brown often the lone dissent on the California Supreme Court, illustrating how far outside of the judicial mainstream she is, she has demonstrated a strong, persistent, and disturbing hostility toward affirmative action, civil rights enforcement, the rights of people with disabilities, workers, older Americans, and women. She has also consistently ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedents that guard against discrimination and support equal opportunity for all.

Taken together, her extremist positions, her tendency toward ideologically-driven judicial activism, and her utter disregard for settled law, all disqualify Justice Janice Rogers Brown from being elevated to any federal court, much less the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is widely regarded as the second most important court in the United States, and a stepping-stone to the U.S. Supreme Court. For these reasons, I oppose her confirmation and urge members of the Senate to do the same.

Thank you.