Protect the Rights of All Americans in Filling Court Vacancy

Recipient: Senator

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, we urge you to ensure that the upcoming nomination and confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice is undertaken in a thorough and deliberate manner that produces a Justice who serves the interests of all Americans.

LCCR believes that it is critically important that anyone confirmed to the Supreme Court is committed to the protection of individual rights and liberties, has an open independent mind without a political agenda, and will ensure that the court will protect all Americans and not powerful special interests. Choosing a Supreme Court Justice is one of the most important national decisions to be made, as Justices are appointed for life and they have the last word on our constitutional rights. Their decisions affect us all.

LCCR strongly urges President Bush to engage in meaningful consultation with the Senate, prior to announcing any nominee, as Presidents from both parties have done in the past. The Constitution, through its “advice and consent” clause, makes the President and the Senate equal partners in the appointment and confirmation of federal judges. As such, President Bush should reach out to both Republican and Democratic Senators to identify and nominate a consensus candidate who is committed to the protection of the rights, liberties and freedom of all Americans. At this time in our history, with our nation divided along partisan lines, it is critically important that any nominee be independent and free from partisan and ideology biases. If the President engages in true consultation, it will produce a nominee who is respected by both sides and can be confirmed on a bipartisan basis.

Given the extraordinary impact of the Supreme Court on civil and human rights and on individual liberties in general, and given Justice O’Connor’s distinguished record as a frequent independent voice of reason on the Court, the Senate has an obligation, to all Americans, to assert its role as an equal partner in the process of filling her seat on the Court.

To that end, we urge you to support a thorough and deliberative confirmation process. The Senate Judiciary Committee should conduct full and complete hearings on the nominee, all relevant documents pertaining to the nominee should be produced and examined, and Committee members should have the opportunity to ask exhaustive questions.

In addition, the Senate can only do its job, and ensure that a new Supreme Court justice will uphold our constitutional rights and freedoms, if the nominee and the Administration are forthcoming about his or her qualifications, background, and constitutional philosophy. Concealing or withholding vital information from Senators and the American people is unacceptable when the consequences for our nation’s future are so great.

Finally, given the tremendous public interest in the next Justice of the Supreme Court, we urge you to ensure adequate time between the selection of a nominee and his or her confirmation hearing. This will eliminate any appearance of an effort to rush or “rubber-stamp” the confirmation, and will maximize the confidence of the public in the process.

Only a nominee who can clearly and convincingly demonstrate a commitment to fairness and independence should earn a lifetime seat on our nation’s highest court. The President must select someone from inside the judicial mainstream, and ensure that anyone who receives a lifetime appointment to our highest court is impartial in upholding the law and the Constitution, independent of partisan politics, and committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of every American. Justice O’Connor’s legacy demands no less.

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nancy Zirkin, LCCR Deputy Director, at 202-263-2880, or Rob Randhava, LCCR Counsel, at 202-466-6058.


Wade Henderson
Executive Director

Nancy Zirkin
Deputy Director