The Injustice of Smearing A Fellow American For Political Gain
There is an excellent posting on Captain’s Quarters about Janice Rogers Brown, one of the court nominees being filibustered by Senate Democrats, that references this Sacramento Bee editorial written by a liberal who, among other things, said:
I know Janice Rogers Brown, and she knows me, but we’re not friends. The associate justice of the California Supreme Court has never been to my house, and I’ve never been to hers. Ours is a wary relationship, one that befits a journalist of generally liberal leanings and a public official with a hard-right reputation fiercely targeted by the left…
Even though being in general disagreement with Brown’s political philosophy, she notes Brown’s dissent in the case of The People v. Conrad Richard McKay and comments further:
I find myself rooting for Brown. I hope she survives the storm and eventually becomes the first black woman on the nation’s highest court.
I want her there because I believe she worries about the things that most worry me about our justice system: bigotry, unequal treatment and laws and police practices that discriminate against people who are black and brown and weak and poor.
Consider these words from the conclusion to Brown’s dissent in the referenced case:
In the spring of 1963, civil rights protests in Birmingham united this country in a new way. Seeing peaceful protesters jabbed with cattle prods, held at bay by snarling police dogs, and flattened by powerful streams of water from fire hoses galvanized the nation. Without being constitutional scholars, we understood violence, coercion, and oppression. We understood what constitutional limits are designed to restrain. We reclaimed our constitutional aspirations. What is happening now is more subtle, more diffuse, and less visible, but it is only a difference in degree. If harm is still being done to people because they are black, or brown, or poor, the oppression is not lessened by the absence of television cameras.
I do not know Mr. McKay’s ethnic background. One thing I would bet on: he was not riding his bike a few doors down from his home in Bel Air, or Brentwood, or Rancho Palos Verdes – places where no resident would be arrested for riding the “wrong way” on a bicycle whether he had his driver’s license or not. Well…it would not get anyone arrested unless he looked like he did not belong in the neighborhood. That is the problem. And it matters…
It is clear the Legislature could not authorize the kind of standardless discretion the court confers in this case. Why should the court permit officers to do indirectly what the Constitution directly prohibits? How can such an action be deemed constitutionally reasonable? And if we insist it is, can we make any credible claim to a commitment to equal justice and equal treatment under law?
Well…No. Not exactly.
Do those words sound like some scary extremist? Of course not.
And yet, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid recently said this about Brown:
…She is a woman who wants to take us back to the Civil War days…
Which leads The Captain’s posting to end with these words:
This is the real Janice Rogers Brown, not some bogeyman dreamed up by People for the American Way and Ted Kennedy. Even her presumed political opponents in the California state capitol know better. It’s high time for the GOP to put an end to the smear campaigns of the Left and get Brown the up-or-down vote she deserves.
Nobody has put forth evidence that Janice Rogers Brown has let her personal beliefs cause her not to follow the Constitution in her judicial opinions. Rather, all they can offer are certain public comments which confirm that she holds some conservative viewpoints. The last time I checked, expressing such opinions was still an allowed freedom in America. This point is reinforced by Thomas Sowell.
Unsurprisingly, Reid’s comments have not stopped with just Brown. Here is what he recently said about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:
I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don’t–I just don’t think that he’s done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.
Discussing a Supreme Court case, Reid also said this about a dissent by Thomas:
…it’s like looking at an 8th grade dissertation compared to somebody who just graduated from Harvard…
Also in the most recent link, James Taranto of the OpinionJournal.com responds with these thoughts:
When Trent Lott crossed the line two years ago, Republicans, after some hesitation, did the right thing and ousted him as their leader. If the Democrats retain Reid, it will tell us something about the party’s commitment to racial equality.
Here is the link to a 2003 Wall Street Journal editorial that explains the underlying motives for the words and actions of Senate Democrats:
The truth is that Judge Brown is all too qualified, and what scares the left is her chances for promotion. More U.S. Supreme Court Justices–including Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas–have come from the D.C. Circuit than from any other federal court…
The lesson liberals learned from Clarence Thomas’s success is to start attacking early when fewer people are paying attention. Senators who had approved Judge Thomas’s appointment to the D.C. Circuit found it politically difficult later to oppose his promotion to the Supreme Court…
So she’s getting the by-now-ritual Borking…
…attacks ultimately descended into something close to parody…Democrats accused her of being insensitive to victims of rape, housing discrimination, age discrimination and even racial discrimination.
Judge Brown was born into a family of Alabama sharecroppers in 1949. She has personal experience with racial segregation and every other precept of Jim Crow America. The idea that she needs a lecture on discrimination from…anyone…in the all-white and mostly male Senate is absurd on its face. But for Democrats the goal is to make her look somehow like an inauthentic black.
As Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Justice Thomas and others can attest, liberals reserve their harshest and most personal attacks for minorities with the audacity to wander off the ideological plantation…Hardly an “extremist,” Judge Brown…wrote the majority opinion for the court more times that any other Justice in the 2001-02 term…
This is about political power, and overturning the results of the 2000 and 2002 elections…
Senate liberals are in the process of filibustering a rainbow coalition of conservative judges that deserves to become a major Republican campaign issue: One black, one Hispanic, three women, two Southern whites and perhaps soon an Arab-American. Let’s have a 2004 election debate over which party is really the enemy of diversity, intellectual and otherwise.
The Left just doesn’t want any blacks wandering off their plantation. No conservative blacks allowed. No school choice for poor inner-city black kids. The list could go on. Now ask yourself who really believes America should be the land of freedom and opportunity for ALL Americans.
See here for more on the Senate judicial filibusters.
Peter Kirsanow adds these thoughts about Janice Rogers Brown. Nat Hentoff comments here.