- July 31 - "Women across the country are grateful to the 35 senators who
bucked the White House's pressure campaign and chose ethics over politics,"
said National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy. Judge D. Brooks
Smith was confirmed by the Senate 64-35 today. "Judge Smith is unfit to serve
on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, despite the outrageous statements of his
chief defender, Sen. Orrin Hatch, who defamed Smith's detractors instead of dealing
with the real issues."
"The Code of Judicial Ethics exists for a reason, and a judge like Smith
who won't abide by those rules has no place on any bench, let alone on the U.S.
Court of Appeal." NOW has strongly opposed the nomination of D. Brooks Smith
for a lifetime seat as an appellate judge. Among other problems, Judge Smith violated
the judicial conduct rules by remaining a member of the Spruce Creek Rod and Gun
Club, which discriminates against women. In 1988, when he was being considered
for the lifetime District Court judgeship he now holds, he acknowledged that keeping
his membership would violate judicial ethics, and he promised the committee that
he would resign if the club didn't change its rules. It didn't and he didn't,
until this seat came open on the Third Circuit.
"In Tuesday night's Senate hearing, right-wing senators like Orrin Hatch
(R-UT) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) twisted the facts about Judge Smith and painted
a false picture of the advocates who oppose his nomination," Gandy said.
"With their insulting comparisons to women's fly-fishing clubs, Senators
Hatch and Santorum dismissed the experiences of business and professional women
across this country who have been excluded from the business connections that
come with membership in clubs like Spruce Creek."
Smith even acknowledged that his Senate sponsor for the judgeship he now holds,
the late Sen. John Heinz, was a member of that club.
Yet Sen. Hatch, taking a page from the "best defense is a good offense"
book, tried to distract attention from the Judge's membership in a discriminatory
club (which even Smith acknowledged was a violation of judicial ethics) by arguing
that such limitations infringe on Smith's freedom of association guaranteed under
the First Amendment. To the contrary, federal judges have a responsibility to
decide many sensitive questions, discrimination among them, and victims of discrimination
who appear in their courts deserve to face judges who are intolerant of discrimination
in all its forms.
"The Senate had an opportunity, with this vote, to say that ethics matter,
and that discrimination against women is not trivial," concluded Gandy.