In case you haven’t heard, the Senate confirmed extremist-conservative judicial nominee Justice Janice Brown. Now how about a reminder as to why she is a threat to the highest levels of the Judiciary and our civil rights…
Unfit to Judge: Brown was the first California Supreme Court Justice to receive an unqualified rating from the state bar and still be nominated by a governor … Republican Pete Wilson in 1994. Three-fourths of the state bar evaluators felt Brown was ill-equipped to hold the position. They are not alone. The American Bar Association gave Brown a low rating of qualified/unqualified for nomination to the D.C. Circuit. Complaints filed by her peers said that she was “insensitive to established legal precedent . . . and lacked compassion and intellectual tolerance for opposing views.”
Anti-government: Brown has made it crystal clear that she does not believe in government involvement of any kind. She abhors the New Deal in its entirety and has said regarding Social Security that “Today’s senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have the right to get as much ‘free’ stuff as the political system will permit them to extract.” Her anti-government, anti-regulation sentiments are particularly disturbing because she has been nominated to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, which makes decisions on most federal administration and regulation cases such as those involving regulations set by agencies like the Social Security Administration, Federal Elections Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and those dealing with federal environmental and labor laws.
Affirmative Action: Brown is infamous for her 2000 decision in Hi-Voltage Wire Works, Inc. v. City of San Jose, 24 Cal. 4th 537 (2000), which upheld California’s voter-approved initiative, Prop. 209, banning affirmative action for women and minorities in public contracts, hiring and college admissions, where they are under-represented. Brown’s 18-page opinion attacked not only the facts of the case but affirmative action in general and made her a darling of the Republican right wing.
Discrimination: Brown has written a truly stunning array of opinions ruling against people filing lawsuits for discrimination. She has been inconsistent in her reading of the First Amendment, ruling that it should protect racial slurs and discriminatory speech in the workplace and in another case asserting that the First Amendment should not protect the right to freely assemble. She has also written opinions that imply that ageism is not a form of discrimination; that it should be more difficult to prosecute against discrimination based on disability; and argues against second-parent adoptions … a critical option for lesbian and gay families.
Abortion: In the case of American Academy of Pediatrics v. Daniel E. Lundgren, Brown’s dissenting opinion, which dismissed a minor’s right to privacy by holding that a parental notification law should not be thrown out even though it violated California state law because California state law cannot provide more privacy than the United States Constitution, she displayed her hostility toward abortion rights. In her opinion, she also showed a disturbing lack of compassion and understanding towards the plight of a young woman trying to navigate the legal system in order to get an abortion. In a more recent case, Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. Superior Court of Sacramento County, Brown was the sole dissent in a decision which found that Catholic Charities was violating a state contraceptive prescriptive equity statute. She stated that if employees felt that they were discriminated against they were free to move to “more congenial employment.”
Violence Against Women: Brown was the lone dissenter in opining that a jury should not be allowed to hear evidence of Battered Women’s Syndrome. She also wrote a shocking dissent in 2003 regarding criminal charges against a man accused of raping a 17-year-old woman on a date. The woman had verbally expressed that she did not want to have sex several times throughout the night. Although she consented to kissing and fondling and at one point to sex, she asserted that she quickly changed her mind and continued to say no and struggle when the man forcibly penetrated her. The question before the court was whether criminal charges of forcible rape could be brought when a woman withdraws her consent and the man continues against her will. The California Supreme Court found that indeed criminal charges could be brought but Brown’s dissenting opinion questioned whether the woman had protested enough and asked the question, “Is persistence the same thing as force?”
Objectivity: Brown participates in many invitation-only private “seminars” thrown by ultra-right wing organizations such as the Liberty Fund and the John M. Olin Foundation. Attending such events, and even making speeches at them, contributes to an appearance of impropriety at best and at worst may influence judges and affect the outcomes of cases.
A review of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown’s record to date raises serious questions and grave concerns about her persistent and disturbing hostility to affirmative action, civil rights, the rights of people with disabilities, workers’ rights, and criminal rights. In addition, Brown has often been the lone justice to dissent on the California Supreme Court, illustrating that her judicial philosophy is outside the mainstream. Not only does she show an inability to dispassionately review cases, her opinions are based on extremist ideology that ignores judicial precedent, including that set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
There’s more here on the Justice’s views of the government and these here are her own words. Now let’s all thank the ever shamelessly compromising and cowardly Congressional Democrats, who not only enjoy losing elections but selling out their voting base, by allowing justices such as Brown to sit on the highest levels of the Judiciary in order to appease the neocon Republicans. Thanks.