Coming up next: Janice Rogers Brown

The Senate will begin debating Bush's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Monday. Is it time to say goodbye to the New Deal?

By Tim Grieve
Published June 3, 2005 8:32PM (EDT)

The Senate will begin to debate nomination of Janice Rogers Brown Monday. While the "Gang of 14" filibuster deal guarantees that Brown will get an up-or-down vote, it doesn't necessarily mean that she'll be confirmed. Well, it probably does mean that, even if it doesn't say so -- with 55 seats in the Senate, the Republicans will almost certainly put the controversial California Supreme Court justice on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

But that doesn't mean that Brown should be confirmed, and interest groups on the left are making one last push in an effort to see that she isn't. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights launched an anti-Brown TV spot Thursday and will run it for the next week on national cable and in Maine and Rhode Island, the home states of "Gang of 14" Republicans Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee, and Nebraska, home to Democrat Gang of 14'er Ben Nelson and a sometimes independent-minded Republican, Chuck Hagel. The spot goes right after the Republicans' storyline on Brown -- that she's the African-American daughter of a sharecropper and is therefore necessarily mindful of civil rights. "In America," the ad says, "we don't confirm judges based on who they are or where they come from. Judges should be confirmed based on their respect of our law, our constitution and our government. Janice Rogers Brown, a radical judge, threatens to turn back the rights we've fought so hard to protect."

On Monday, representatives of the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and the National Women's Law Center will hold a press conference to argue that Brown shouldn't get a seat on what is often called the second highest court in the land. The basic arguments will be familiar to those who have been following Brown's nomination and re-nomination over the last two years, but here are the highlights from a recent piece in Salon:

"Brown startled many legal observers with her speech in 2000 to the Federalist Society in Chicago, when she warned that, 'Where government moves in . . . the result is a debased, debauched culture, which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.' Brown has denounced President Franklin Roosevelt's Supreme Court as transforming the Constitution into a 'significantly different document,' and the Democratic New Deal as the triumph of 'our own socialist revolution.' It is this fervid ideological opposition to government and regulation of private enterprise that causes Democratic opponents to denounce her lack of judicial fairness. Critics fear Brown's anti-government attacks and opposition to regulation of corporate and financial interests that could block her impartiality on the federal court."

It's enough to make the Los Angeles Times call Brown a "bad fit" for the D.C. Circuit. The New York Times calls her "among the very worst" of the judges Bush has put before the Senate. By the time next week is out, however, odds are that we'll be calling Brown something else: a federal judge with a lifetime appointment.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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