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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Press Release

Brown Confirmation Deals Heavy Blow to Environmental Protections

Vote puts Justice Brown in a position to undermine public health & conservation laws

June 8, 2005


Glenn Sugameli, James Cox, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500

Janice Rogers Brown
Photo: White House
Washington, DC--

Today, the Senate voted virtually along party lines 56 to 43 to confirm California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to a lifetime seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The DC Circuit Court is critical because it decides whether to uphold, enforce, or strike down many national environmental safeguards, including those that protect our clean water, clean air, and special natural places. Justice Brown's nomination was opposed by a large number of conservation, public-health, and other groups because of her judicial decisions and speeches favoring polluters and developers over the rights of individuals to a clean and healthful environment.

The path to Justice Brown's confirmation was cleared by a compromise reached several weeks ago by a coalition of 14 senators in the face of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat to invoke the "nuclear option." Under the "nuclear option," Frist would have broken Senate rules to eliminate the ability of a minority of senators to block ideological nominees using the filibuster.

"The vote to confirm Justice Brown despite her record indicates that too many Senators are willing to rubber-stamp even the most activist of President Bush's judicial nominees, instead of exercising their constitutional duty to give independent advice and consent," said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. "This shows what happens when senators vote in lock-step to confirm judges picked by a president who refuses to consult on a bipartisan basis."

Justice Brown's record reveals that she is a staunch, openly activist opponent of fundamental government safeguards. According to Brown, "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." Her radical views on "takings" law would force taxpayers to pay for the privilege of breathing clean air, and drinking clean water.

"Justice Brown is guilty of being a judicial activist in the first degree," said Jim Cox, Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. "After nominating Brown, there's no way that President Bush can truthfully say that he opposes judicial activism."

Justice Brown's judicial activism has been the subject of numerous editorials that have opposed her nomination, including a June 7, 2005 Washington Post editorial, which noted: "No senator who votes for her will have standing any longer to complain about legislating from the bench."