- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

Democrats at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday accused Jeffrey S. Sutton, President Bush's choice for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, of opposing the rights of disabled people and called him too conservative.
They also complained that the panel was considering Mr. Sutton along with two other "controversial" nominees at the same hearing.
"There just is a tremendous rush to judgment here," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, suggested Republicans were trying to "jam through nominees that have serious questions."
In addition to Mr. Sutton, the hearing included Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah L. Cook, also nominated to the 6th Circuit, and John G. Roberts Jr., nominated to the District of Columbia Circuit.
"They've been waiting 630 days. I think that's adequate time to prepare," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican. The three were nominated in May 2001 and never received hearings under the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Democrats have raised concerns about all three nominees. They say Mr. Sutton has worked throughout his career to limit Congress' ability to enact laws that protect civil rights, including the rights of the disabled. Disability groups packed the hearing room yesterday to show opposition to his nomination.
Democrats questioned Mr. Sutton extensively yesterday about his cases, including one he successfully argued before the Supreme Court that prevented state employees with disabilities from collecting monetary damages from their state employers for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mr. Sutton said his arguments on behalf of his clients do not necessarily reflect his personal views.
"It is exceedingly wrong to ascribe the views … of the client to the lawyer," Mr. Sutton said.
He noted that he had advocated for a variety of clients and views, including defending the Ohio hate-crimes statute and representing a blind woman who had been denied entrance to medical school.
Mr. Hatch called Mr. Sutton "one of the most respected appellate advocates in the country today" and said he had a "well-known record of fighting for the legal rights of disabled people."
Mr. Sutton was Ohio's solicitor general from 1995 to 1998. He has a private practice at the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue in Columbus, Ohio.
Mr. Schumer said it was clear that Mr. Sutton had been "a passionate advocate" for limiting Congress' power, and asked him how he would "turn it off" as a judge.
"You're hardly a moderate," Mr. Schumer said.
Mr. Sutton said appeals court judges are required to follow Supreme Court precedent.
"That's exactly what I would do," Mr. Sutton said.
Democrats say Justice Cook is too conservative as well. Mr. Kennedy said she has a "disturbing record of bias in favor of business and corporations over the interests of injured individuals, workers, consumers and women."
Republicans disagreed and pointed out that during her four years on the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals, she decided more than 1,000 cases and was reversed by the Ohio Supreme Court only six times.
After a long day of questioning mostly directed at Mr. Sutton Mr. Schumer asked to extend the hearing to another day in order to question the other two nominees.
Mr. Hatch refused, saying: "Today is the day we bring this hearing to a conclusion."
Meanwhile, the committee is scheduled to vote today on the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the District of Columbia Circuit. Democrats on the panel say Mr. Estrada has not answered their questions.
The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, said last week that Mr. Estrada "appears to have been groomed to be an activist appellate judge by well-placed conservatives."
Republicans dismissed such assertions and said they were confident the committee would approve Mr. Estrada's nomination.

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