Liberals Assail Bush Pick for Federal Court in D.C. Conservative Black Woman Draws NAACP Fire

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two influential liberal interest groups yesterday said it would be "disastrous" if the Senate approved a black female judge from California who President Bush nominated in July to serve on the federal circuit court of appeals here in Washington.

A joint report by People for the American Way and the NAACP said California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is "committed to using her power as a judge" to work against civil and constitutional rights.

Justice Brown is the first black woman to sit on California's Supreme Court, where she is seen as the most conservative judge on that court. She would also be the first black woman to sit on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which handles many high-profile federal cases and is considered a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Janice Rogers Brown is the far right's dream judge," said Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way. "She embodies Clarence Thomas's ideological extremism and Antonin Scalia's abrasiveness and right-wing activism."

And Hilary Shelton, director of Washington's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accused the Bush administration of hoping "to get some kind of credit because she is the first African-American woman nominated to the D.C. circuit."

Announced opposition by interest groups has been the catalyst in eventual Democratic filibusters to block several nominees from getting votes on the Senate floor. That is all the more important in Justice Brown's case since she is following the same path other U.S. Supreme Court justices have taken.

Justice Thomas, for example, served on the D.C. circuit court before being tapped to serve on the Supreme Court. And many observers thought Miguel A. Estrada, another of Mr. Bush's nominees to the D.C. circuit court who is currently the subject of a Democrat-led filibuster, might also use the court as a steppingstone.

Justice Brown's defenders said they see a pattern in what Democrats and liberal interest groups are trying to do. …