- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Supporters of one of President Bush’s judicial nominees are launching a television advertisement today against Sen. John Edwards in a state crucial to the North Carolina Democrat’s presidential aspirations.

California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit but has faced stiff opposition from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans to vote on her nomination tomorrow.

The 30-second TV spot will air for three days in South Carolina. It will highlight Justice Brown’s rearing on a poor sharecropper’s farm in segregated Alabama and her impressive ascent through law school and onto California’s highest court.

The picture of Justice Brown, who is black, then switches to a picture of Mr. Edwards, a member of the Judiciary Committee, and the female announcer informs viewers of Democratic opposition to the nominee.

“Shame on you, Senator Edwards,” she says, according to a transcript. “Put qualifications before politics.”

Mr. Edwards’ office said last night that he hasn’t decided how he will vote on the nominee tomorrow. Though he rarely attends the Judiciary Committee’s meetings, Mr. Edwards has always voted absentee with Democrats on the panel in close votes.

Paid for by the conservative group Committee for Justice, the advertisement could prove particularly troublesome for Mr. Edwards, especially if his party filibusters Justice Brown and the issue lingers in the Democratic primary.

Trailing in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, Mr. Edwards has focused much of his time and considerable bank account on South Carolina, where he was born. In South Carolina, Mr. Edwards emphasized his humble birth to a textile-mill worker and how he became a successful lawyer, mirroring the rags-to-riches tale of Justice Brown.

The ad is also aimed at South Carolina’s large black population, a crucial voter base for Mr. Edwards and other Democrats.

Yesterday, a black conservative organization charged Senate Democrats with racism and “tyranny of ideology” for opposing Justice Brown over her conservative views.

Justice Brown’s opponents “are practicing racism of the worst kind, believing we must not only all look alike, but we must all vote alike and think alike,” said an open letter from the New Black Leadership Coalition.

The Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have criticized Justice Brown as “an extremist” and “a right-wing conservative.” In particular, they note the court opinion she wrote limiting the use of affirmative action in awarding state contracts. In that case, Justice Brown was writing for a unanimous court.

Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, noted it has been 40 years since civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Cheney and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi.

“I doubt very seriously that Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman and many others who shed blood, tears and their lives to fight for black rights and fight to break away from one type of tyranny would want to replace it with another type of tyranny — a tyranny of ideology,” Mr. Innis said. “It’s a tyranny that says if you’re a woman or a black, you must think a certain way.”

Democrats denied any consideration of race.

“I am becoming more and more amused,” said Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat. “We’re either anti-Catholic, anti-Hispanic or now anti-African-American. It seems like just about every time we raise reservations or concerns about a nominee, race or ethnicity or religion comes up. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s bad for the institution, and I think it’s bad for the debate itself.”

Manuel Miranda, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, lamented the stalemate by referring to the leading character — a middle-aged white bigot — in the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family.”

“Democrats now reflect an Archie Bunker mentality, which I thought had long ago vanished,” he said.

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