9 June 2005
Janice Rogers Brown has been confirmed by the Senate, to the delight of some and the despair of others.
On the delighted side, Susanna Cornett:
[S]he is trained from both life experience and biblical teaching to be fair. She was raised in the Jim Crow South, and taught from early years that God is no respecter of persons. I'd say that's had a big role in her career, and would naturally extend to her judicial decisions.
Why is that important for a judge? Other than the obvious issues of morality and conservatism, what it means is that she is trained, almost at a cellular level, to respect and rely on original documents when deciding what is and is not the right thing to do. And she is bound by something larger than herself to adjudicating fairly and according to the letter and spirit of the law she would, by definition, not be a legislating justice. In a courtroom, I'd say that would translate into stringent analysis and evenhanded judicial decisions.
On the "despair" side of the ledger is People for the American Way. President Ralph Neas, on Brown's ascension to the D.C. Court of Appeals:
She believes we would be better off if we returned to a time when protections like the minimum wage, food safety standards, and Social Security and Medicare were ruled unconstitutional never mind what voters and elected officials think. She equates affordable housing regulations with theft. She argues that much corporate behavior can only be regulated if companies agree that it's in their best interest. She calls court decisions upholding the New Deal "our own socialist revolution." Her record on civil rights and equal opportunity offends the very notion of justice.
To support this, PFAW has offered a selection of Brown's speeches and California Supreme Court decisions. To me, this one stood out:
Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.
I don't have any reason to think Ralph Neas finds moral depravity entertaining, particularly, but I suspect he rather chafes at the notion that there might be an objective definition of "virtue."
And the present-day definition of "equal opportunity," which calls for the most absurd tilts in the playing field in the hopes of making the results look good. or at least proportional, is far more of an offense to justice than anything Justice Brown has proposed.