We Need “Judges for Justice” Says Leading Civil Rights Group

Media 11.12,03

Washington – With Republican Senate leadership poised for their 30-hour marathon filibuster on judicial nominations, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, today called on senators to support judges who care about “equal justice for all” and oppose those who are not.

“In a shameful act of pandering to their extremist right-wing base, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are conducting a 30-hour talkathon instead of addressing important public business. Such antics will neither improve prospects for a handful of extremist judicial nominees, nor move this country forward,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

“The absurdity of the Senate leadership’s attack on judges is almost beyond measure,” continued Henderson. “With 168 of 172 (98 percent) judges confirmed and with the lowest vacancy rate (4.7 percent) for federal judicial appointments in thirteen years, this phony indignation is at the very least nothing but a distraction from important work in the Senate, including: providing funding for No Child Left Behind; protecting overtime pay for workers; passing a prescription drug benefit; and improving environmental protection.”

“At its worst,” said Henderson, “it is a cynical – almost Orwellian effort – to redefine success as failure so that Senate Republicans can then have a pretext for changing the rules to threaten the rights of the minority.”

“The issue is not the Democratic filibuster of a small group of right-wing extremists. The issue is a conscious campaign by the Bush administration to pack the courts with right-wing ideologues who will limit the rights of women, workers, and minorities.”

LCCR emphasized substantive reasons why the organization opposes the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and Carolyn Kuhl.

Janice Rogers Brown, Nominee to the D.C. Circuit
On the California Supreme Court, the record of Judge Brown reveals a troubling pattern of persistent hostility toward affirmative action, civil rights, the rights of individuals with disabilities, women, older Americans, and workers. Brown uses her political viewpoint to achieve the results she desires in cases regardless of judicial precedence or consistency. Furthermore, Brown’s opinions reveal her skepticism about the existence and impact of discrimination and consistently limit recourse available to victims of discrimination to obtain justice.

Priscilla Owen, Nominee to the Fifth Circuit
Time and again, the record of Priscilla Owen raises serious questions about her commitment to equal justice for all Americans. Owen is considered to be among the most conservative justices on the already conservative Texas Supreme Court and has demonstrated that she is a judicial activist with a willingness to rewrite the law in order to achieve a particular result.

Carolyn Kuhl, Nominee to the Ninth Circuit
In her work as a Justice Department official, in private practice, and as a California judge, Carolyn Kuhl, has demonstrated a lack of commitment to core constitutional values and equal rights. Kuhl’s record reveals a troubling tendency to favor corporate interests, at the expense of workers and consumers. As a judge, Kuhl dismissed a claim brought by a breast cancer patient whose privacy was invaded when a drug salesman who misrepresented his identity participated in her doctor’s examination of her breasts. On appeal, the Court of Appeals unanimously found in favor of the plaintiff, reversing Kuhl’s decision.


Since its founding in 1950, LCCR has provided a powerful unified voice for the various constituencies of the coalition: persons of color, women, children, individuals with disabilities, gays and lesbians, older Americans, labor unions, major religious groups and civil liberties and human rights groups. Today, more than 50 million persons belong to the 180 organizations that form LCCR, and, while the organizations continue to advance their respective goals, inherent to their success is their membership in LCCR, the coalition that unifies and amplifies the voices of those who share a common vision of equal opportunity, justice and mutual respect.