- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2003

The Congressional Black Caucus yesterday voiced intense opposition to President Bush’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, calling the black California Supreme Court justice a “female Clarence Thomas” who is “hostile to civil rights.”

Caucus members said Justice Janice Rogers Brown is far from mainstream as they likened her to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas, a conservative whose opposition to affirmative action has enraged many in the black community.

“This Bush nominee has such an atrocious civil rights record that Clarence Thomas would look like Thurgood Marshall in comparison,” said Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat and member of the CBC. Justice Marshall was the high court’s first black justice and a civil rights icon.

“She’s a poster woman for the far right wing,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat. “Judge Brown’s legal record and her views on civil rights and constitutional issues place her so far outside the legal mainstream.”

But California voters, apparently, disagree. In her last election, Justice Brown got 76 percent of the vote, the highest of any justice in that 1998 election.

Miss Watson’s primary example of Justice Brown’s unfitness for the court was her authorship of a court opinion that “effectively ended meaningful affirmative action programs in California.” Justice Brown was joined by the entire California Supreme Court in that decision.

“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting,” Justice Brown wrote in the opinion.

Miss Watson said her “opposition derives from the fact that” Justice Brown never visited her and other black members of the California Legislature after she became a member of the state’s Supreme Court.

“A person who could be appointed to the Supreme Court who shared my ethnicity, one would think, would come in and meet with our black caucus,” she said.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a prepared statement: “If critics don’t like Justice Brown’s decisions, they should change the law, rather than attack her for partisan political gain. She’s just doing her job as a judge, not as a politician.”

Born to sharecroppers in Alabama, Justice Brown attended segregated schools in the Deep South. After getting her law degree from the University of California, she worked in private practice and held various state government posts. In 1996, Republican Gov. Pete Wilson appointed her to the California Supreme Court.

Mr. Bush nominated her in July to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a panel often viewed as a springboard to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on Justice Brown for Wednesday.

The CBC’s assault on Justice Brown follows similarly staunch opposition from interest groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, People for the American Way and several pro-choice groups.

The pattern of opposition follows closely that of other Bush nominees now facing filibusters on the Senate floor. Several CBC members urged senators to block Justice Brown by any means possible.

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