Senator Frist is determined to roll women’s rights and racial civil rights back a couple of decades via to extremist conservative judicial nominees–both female and one African-American. Frist and his comrades are insidiously playing the race and sex card in hopes hitting the Achilles’ heel of the Democrats who regularly promote the advancement of women and people of Color. However it isn’t about the sex or race of these judicial nominees, instead it’s their politics. And the Democrats battling Frist’s minature regime are once again proving that they are indeed for women’s rights and racial civil rights. These two female judicial nominees are anything but proponents of women’s rights and racial civil rights, which the Democrats have already pointed out by looking at their track records as judges and their own words. These two women prove that sometimes certain women and African-Americans can be their own sex’s and race’s worst enemy and actually roll back their rights, rather than preserve them. The National Women’s Law Center certainly were not impressed by their track records and see them as a danger to women’s rights and racial civil rights.
[...] Senator Frist has made it clear that he plans to use two female nominees as the triggers for the “nuclear option,”? and in an attempt to turn the truth on its head, some of his colleagues have suggested that those who oppose these nominees are opposed to progress for women. One of his Congressional allies said last week that opposing these nominees risks “reversing decades of progress for all females,”? and Senator Hatch has called it a “slap in the face”? to American women to stop nominees like this.
The true slap in the face to American women would be the confirmation of nominees like Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen. As you have heard from previous speakers, these nominees’ records demonstrate that they are hostile to many of the basic legal rights that American women cherish. Their willingness to use their positions as judges to impose their agendas on the cases they hear has real implications for real Americans, especially American women.
You have heard that Justice Priscilla Owen’s sympathies lie with big business rather than with consumers. Let me give you one example. A woman was raped in her home by a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. She sued the manufacturer who made the vacuums and the distributor, who failed to check the salesman’s references and so did not discover his history of improper sexual conduct, including an arrest for indecency with children. Justice Owen, a member of the Texas Supreme Court, joined two dissents arguing that the manufacturer should not be held responsible for the negligence of its distributor, even though it required its vacuums to be sold door-to-door. Justice Owen would rather have shielded the manufacturer from liability than protect real women, like the victim in that case, from being attacked in their own homes.
Let me turn to Janice Rogers Brown. Justice Brown has demonstrated hostility towards the New Deal, that era that brought us Social Security and minimum wage laws, calling it a “socialist revolution.”? As you heard, as member of the California Supreme Court Justice, Justice Brown recently questioned the longstanding legal rule that prosecutors cannot discriminate against African-American women when choosing juries. Imagine the world that would exist if Justice Brown’s opinion had carried the day. If an African-American woman were discriminated against at work because of her race or her sex and she brought suit against her employer, her employer could remove all the African-American women from the jury pool, leaving the plaintiff without a jury of her peers and without any legal recourse. In another case, Justice Brown argued that the continued use of obscenities and racial slurs against Latino employees in the workplace was protected by the First Amendment. Justice Brown’s proposed legal rule would be devastating to women and people of color, who for far too long have been subject to the worst forms of harassment at work, who now have the law on their side ““ no thanks to Justice Brown.
Majority Leader Frist has said that these nominees deserve confirmation votes, votes by the way they do get in the form of the Senate votes to end debate on their nominations. In fact, what American women deserve is federal judges who respect their hard-won legal rights. It is important to have a judiciary that is diverse, with more women on the federal bench. But it is wrong to confirm judges ““ male or female ““ who cannot even get the 60 votes, and who will roll back our rights far into the future. Women need the protection of the filibuster ““ the nuclear option targets their legal rights.
All of us long to see a diverse Judiciary that represents the true face of the country, but one that will also preserve our rights, and not roll them back. Believe me, as a biracial woman I would love to see more than just a bunch of old white men occupying all the benches in the land, but I would still like to have judges that will preserve my rights. These two judicial nominees are a threat to women’s rights and racial civil rights. We are our own worst enemies at times. Oh, the tragic irony.