Nov 06, 2003

The Bush administration's campaign to pack the federal courts with right-wing jurists moved forward today when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to a federal appeals court.

On a party-line vote, after an hour or so of debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of California Supreme Court Justice Brown. Brown is seeking a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the committee in late October urging the defeat of Brown because of her extreme and outdated views on religious liberty and other constitutional rights.

In a 1999 speech at Pepperdine University, Brown lambasted the U.S. Supreme Court for relying "on a rather uninformative metaphor of the 'wall of separation' between church and state." In the same speech, Brown declared that the federal courts were probably wrong to have interpreted the Bill of Rights as applying to the states.

"Janice Brown has made it clear that she does not have much respect for some of our nation's most cherished liberties," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director.

Lynn noted that many other public interest groups as well as newspapers all over the country have opposed Brown's nomination. For example, a recent New York Times editorial referred to Brown to as "an archconservative justice" who had "declared war on the mainstream legal values that most Americans hold dear."

Some observers expect a move by senators to prevent the Brown nomination from coming up for a floor vote.

"No senator should consent to the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown because she has exhibited open hostility to church-state separation and the role federal courts play in protecting civil liberties," Lynn said.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.