Black lawyers speak out against Bush's black appellate nominee

By Noble Johns

Civil rights lawyers here decried Janice Rogers Brown's nomination to a federal appeals court on Monday, saying California Supreme Court justice has a poor record on affirmative action and is too pro-business.

Brown, a black Republican, was nominated by President Bush in 2003 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown is among a handful of judges whose nominations are tied up in partisan politics. A showdown vote could go before the full Senate perhaps as early as next week.

Abortion advocates and disability groups also attended the news conference, but the speakers - who also included representatives from a San Francisco lawyer's group and a women's rights group - were all black - making the point that blacks aren't necessarily in favor of her nomination.

"Many people will feel uncomfortable in criticizing a black woman. She's bad for all Americans," said Eva Paterson, a black lawyer with the Equal Justice Society.

Democrats are filibustering Brown's nomination, and Republicans are threatening to take the extraordinary step of disallowing filibusters and requiring an up-or-down vote. Democrats have signaled they might retaliate by stalling much of the Senate's business.

Coming from the segregated South, Brown supports limits on abortion rights and corporate liability, routinely upholds the death penalty and opposes affirmative action.

Brown, 55, caught the attention of conservatives and the Bush administration with an anti-affirmative action opinion she wrote in 2000, four years after becoming a California justice. The majority opinion, which overturned a local ordinance requiring government contractors to solicit bids from companies owned by women and minorities, was a lengthy treatise that laid out her view of the history of race in America.

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