- March 31 - The record of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn
Kuhl, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
by President Bush, demonstrates that her confirmation would pose
a grave threat to the rights and interests of ordinary Americans.
Kuhl’s record throughout her career as a lawyer and a judge reflects
hostility to women’s rights and reproductive freedom, other civil
rights and access to justice.
Kuhl exemplifies the dangers of allowing President Bush to pack
the courts with judges who would have a devastating effect on
the rights of ordinary Americans,” said People For the American
Way President Ralph G. Neas. “As a Reagan administration official,
a private attorney and a judge, Carolyn Kuhl has followed a
legal philosophy harmful to the rights of individuals seeking
justice. Her nomination should be rejected.”
released a report
providing detailed analysis of Kuhl’s record as an attorney
and a judge for the last 22 years. The report examines Kuhl’s
record in her current position as a Los Angeles County Superior
Court judge, as well as during her time as a Reagan administration
Justice Department official and a private attorney representing
defense contractors and other corporate interests. “From the
bench, from the bar and at the Department of Justice, Kuhl has
been an obstacle for individuals seeking justice,” said Neas.
from the report:
Reagan Justice Department, Kuhl helped orchestrate the Reagan
administration’s reversal of a long-standing IRS policy that
denied tax exempt status to private schools that practice race
discrimination, including Bob Jones University. Her position
was soundly repudiated by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling.
the filing of and then co-authored a brief in a U.S. Supreme
Court case calling for “outright reversal” of Roe v. Wade. The
Court rejected Kuhl’s attack on the landmark ruling.
an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court advocating a position
that would have made it harder for women to prove sexual harassment
in the workplace. The Court unanimously rejected Kuhl’s position.
In a move
that would have undermined the ability of citizens to vindicate
their legal rights, Kuhl on behalf of the Department of Justice
urged the Supreme Court to reverse well-settled law allowing
associations to file lawsuits on behalf of their members. Kuhl’s
attack on this critical doctrine was met with opposition from
groups as ideologically diverse as the AMA, the NAACP, the Chamber
of Commerce, the Chemical Manufacturers Association and the
Sierra Club. The Supreme Court rejected Kuhl’s argument without
testified as a DOJ official against legislation that would have
given veterans the right to go to court when denied benefits.
In her testimony, Kuhl stated that the federal courts, which
often represent a citizens’ last best chance for justice, “are
not the enchanted land where all wrongs will be made right.”
As a private
attorney, Kuhl filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court
supporting efforts by the Virginia Military Institute, an all-male
public institution, to continue to exclude women. The Court
later ruled that VMI’s denial of admission to women violated
the Equal Protection Clause. Kuhl also filed a brief supporting
the “gag rule” prohibiting family clinics that receive federal
funds from discussing abortion with patients.
As a judge,
Kuhl dismissed a breast cancer patient’s claim that her privacy
had been violated when her physician permitted a male drug company
salesperson to watch as he had the woman disrobe from the waist
up and examined her breasts and abdomen. Kuhl ruled that “it
cannot be said that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy”
in this case. The California Court of Appeal unanimously overturned
Kuhl’s ruling, making it clear that Kuhl had no legal basis
for not allowing the women to present her case to a jury.
was also unanimously reversed by the California Court of Appeal
in a case involving a state law protecting whistleblowers and
others who exercise their legal right to speak out in defense
of the public good. In an opinion strongly critical of Kuhl’s
decision, the Court of Appeal sternly stated that Kuhl’s ruling
“constitutes a nullification of an important part” of the state
statute. In another case, Kuhl reduced by more than $4 million
the punitive damages awarded by a jury to a whistleblower who
had been illegally fired.
unanimous ruling by the California Court of Appeal reversing
Judge Kuhl, the court overturned an order that would have harmed
the ability of an injured railroad worker to pursue a damage
claim against the railroad by prohibiting him from using a written
statement obtained from a key witness in the case.
is a textbook example of the Bush administration campaign
to pack the federal courts of appeal with right-wing judges
whose legal philosophies are out of the mainstream,” said
Neas. “Kuhl’s long record demonstrates she has already tried
to turn back the clock on civil rights, women’s rights and
access to justice. Giving her a lifetime position on the federal
appellate bench would place her in an even more powerful position
to jeopardize Americans’ rights for decades to come. Kuhl’s
confirmation should be rejected.”