Civil Rights Coalition Expresses Great Disappointment in Committee Vote to Approve Brown Confirmation

Media 11.6,03

Today, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, expressed great disappointment in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to approve the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“This is a nominee whose extremist ideology clearly makes her unfit to serve on the federal bench,” said LCCR Executive Director Wade Henderson. “Not only is Janice Rogers Brown often the lone dissent on the California Supreme Court, illustrating how far outside of the judicial mainstream she is, but she has demonstrated a strong, persistent, and disturbing hostility toward affirmative action, civil rights, the rights of people with disabilities, workers’ rights, criminal rights, and women’s rights.”

“This is a judge,” continued Henderson, “who doesn’t let the facts or Supreme Court precedent stand in the way of her opinions.”

“Most troubling and a predictor of Brown’s unwillingness to follow the law as a circuit court judge, is her blatant disregard for judicial precedent,” said Henderson. “For example, despite binding Supreme Court precedent, Brown supported the rights of a city government over the rights of workers in a case that involved drug and alcohol testing of city employees. Further, in another case she ignored Supreme Court precedent, arguing that the First Amendment protects the use of racial slurs in the workplace, even when it becomes illegal race discrimination.”

During Janice Rogers Brown’s tenure on the California Supreme Court she has gone to great lengths to limit plaintiffs’ ability to prevail in cases based on discrimination in housing, age, employment, disability, and race. Brown has also aggressively opposed affirmative action. Her opinion in a case reviewing affirmative action in California went much farther than necessary and made it almost impossible for the state to have any kind of meaningful affirmative action policy. Her opinion was widely criticized, even by the Republican-appointed chief justice of the California Supreme Court, who concurred with the result of the case, but wrote that Brown’s opinion seriously distorted history.

“Taken together, her extremist positions, her tendency toward ideologically-driven judicial activism, and her utter disregard for settled law, disqualify Janice Rogers Brown from being elevated to any federal court, much less the D.C. Circuit, which is widely regarded as the second most important court in the United States, after the U.S. Supreme Court. We urge the full Senate not to allow Janice Rogers Brown to sit on the D.C. Circuit,” said Henderson.