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Judge Janice Rogers Brown may be Confirmed This Week
By: Roderick C. Willis
Afro Newspapers
Originally posted 6/6/2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNPA) A recent accord between U.S. Senate Republicans and Democrats will likely assure Justice Janice Rogers Brown will be confirmed this week for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The California Supreme Court judge was among a number of extremely conservative justices nominated by President Bush to federal courts, who were subjects of current rumblings and a recently broken impasse between Democratic and Republican senators.

But Brown's likely appointment and the agreement that clears the path for her has left a bad taste in the mouths of some legislators, who see the deal as a loss for civil rights.

''The Congressional Black Caucus strongly opposes the deal that trades judges who oppose our civil rights for a temporary filibuster ceasefire,'' said U.S. Rep. Mel Watts, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. ''This is more of a capitulation than a compromise. Two of the three judges in the agreed-to deal, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, have documented histories of opposing the rights of African Americans, and of hostility to the broad mainstream of law and rights enacted by the Congress over the past 75 years.''

With these nominations likely secured, the legal landscape is almost sure to change. Brown alone, at 56, could make legal decisions that would have impact well into the 21st century.

''According to several analyses by legal organizations,'' said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ''many of these judges have made decisions based upon their own version of our legal principles. Two particular judicial nominees to the federal appellate courts, Justice Priscilla Owen of Texas and Justice Janice Rogers Brown of California, have ruled against the interest of workers, people with disabilities, medical patients, consumers, people of color and those who have been injured.''

Among her previous decisions, Brown authored an opinion that effectively ended affirmative action in California. In {Hi-Voltage Wire Works Inc. v. City of San Jose}, she suggested race-consciousness in affirmative action was similar to segregationist practices. Even Brown's Republican colleagues on the California Supreme Court called her analysis of precedent in this area ''a serious distortion of history.''

In other areas of concern, this is how Brown ruled:

* Discrimination in jury selection: Brown overturned a California ruling that said prosecutors violated the Constitution by striking African-American women from juries on the basis of race ({People v. Robert Young}).

* Employment discrimination: Brown tried to overturn a ruling made by another Bush nominee that prohibited an employer from using racial epithets against a Latino employee, citing the First Amendment ({Aguilar v. Avis Rent a Car}).

* Age discrimination: Brown ruled that this form of discrimination as not harmful. ''Discrimination based on age ... does not mark its victim with a stigma of inferiority and second-class citizenship: it is the unavoidable consequence of that universal leveler, time,'' said Brown in {Stevenson v. Superior}.

* Housing discrimination: Brown was the only member of the California Supreme Court to rule that a female African-American police officer could not recover damages for housing discrimination. In that case, a White property owner accused the police officer of trying to break in when she was, in fact, merely inquiring about an apartment vacancy ({Kronig v. Fiar}).

A study by People for the American Way, which is allied with the NAACP and a number of civil rights and labor organizations in opposing Brown, indicated that ''Justice Janice Rogers Brown's record shows her to be to the right of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonio Scalia and Clarence Thomas,'' the most conservative justices on the court.

African-Americans have historically used the judicial arm of government to intervene when society was slow to protect its civil rights. Brown has shown distain for government intervention, even when one group has succeeded in oppressing another, her critics say.

Brown is a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative law students, attorneys and judges intent on shifting the courts to the right.

In an April 20, 2000, speech made before the Federalist Society at the University of Chicago Law School called ''The Whiter Shade of Pale: Sense and Nonsense - The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics'' Brown said:

''Big government is not just the opiate of the masses, it is THE opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms, for the regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmer and militant senior citizens.''

Brown went on to state: ''Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failure increased. Government now pays citizens to organize, lawyers to sue and politicians to run for office. Soon enough, if current trends continue, government will become self-contained, generating [apparently spontaneously] the forces to which it responds''

Hilary Shelton, head of the NAACP Washington bureau, said of Brown: ''She is one of the most extreme nominees to be appointed.''
Washington, D.C., Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said, ''She [is] cut out of the same cloth as Clarence Thomas.''

Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), went even further, declaring that Brown ''has such an atrocious civil rights record, she makes Clarence Thomas look like Thurgood Marshall.''

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