- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A second television ad has been aired in South Carolina attacking Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards for his opposition to one of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

The conservative group Committee for Justice targeted the North Carolina senator for supporting the filibuster against California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who is black and grew up on a sharecropping farm in segregated Alabama.

Justice Brown is one of six of Mr. Bush’s nominees whose confirmation vote have been held up by a core group of 45 Democrats. The justice was selected to sit on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Each of the nominees is thought to have enough support for confirmation if given a vote by the full Senate.

The group, which funded an earlier ad supporting Justice Brown, picked South Carolina to run both ads because that is where Mr. Edwards hopes to make his first big splash in the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic primary. Also, South Carolina is the first state primary where black voters can determine the outcome of that state’s candidate in the general election.

The ad uses excerpts from a televised interview in which the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is also running for the Democratic nomination and hopes to do well in South Carolina, criticized the Democratic-led filibuster against Justice Brown.

“She should get an up-or-down vote,” Mr. Sharpton, who is black, says in the ad. “I don’t think she should be opposed because she doesn’t come from some assumed club.”

In that interview with conservative columnist Armstrong Williams, Mr. Sharpton echoed the criticism leveled by black Republicans that Justice Brown is being blocked by some Democrats because as a conservative jurist, she doesn’t conform to the Democratic ideology that many black Americans do.

In the ad, which runs through tomorrow, the narrator says: “The daughter of a sharecropper who worked her way through law school as a widowed mother has been nominated to the second-highest court in the land. But she’s being blocked by Senator John Edwards.”

The ad ends by saying, “Al Sharpton gets it; Senator Edwards doesn’t. Shame on you, Senator Edwards.”

Mr. Edwards said he has “an obligation to lead on issues of civil rights.”

“To support Justice Brown would be to turn my back on that responsibility, and that is something I will never do,” he said in a statement. “I stand firm in my opposition to the nomination of Justice Brown and believe all true friends of civil rights should do the same.”

Though Mr. Sharpton stands to gain from Mr. Edwards’ demise in South Carolina, his office issued a press release demanding that the ad be pulled.

“I am outraged and disgusted to see the Committee for Justice — a White House front group — use my name, my face and my statements in a misleading manner to smear Senator John Edwards,” Mr. Sharpton said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

The press release is similar to one issued by his office earlier this month after The Washington Times reported that Mr. Sharpton had departed from most Democrats in his televised interview by asking that Justice Brown be given a final vote by the full Senate.

“As I have previously stated, I am strongly opposed to the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown,” Mr. Sharpton said in the latest statement. “She is so far removed from the judicial mainstream that she poses a serious threat to the progress we have made in civil rights. I believe our senators should continue to do everything within their means to prevent Justice Brown from gaining a lifetime appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

However, just as in his earlier press release, the statement attributed to Mr. Sharpton from this week fails to specifically ask Democratic senators to continue their filibuster against Justice Brown.


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