The Senate has cleared the way for a vote on the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to a seat on the federal Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. Like Patrica Owen, confirmed to the federal 5th Circuit in May, Brown is a justice on the highest court of her home state (California, in contrast to Owen’s Texas) who is not only well-regarded by the legal scholars who have perused her opinions but overwhelmingly popular among her state’s residents (Brown won re-election to her seat with 76 percent of the vote). And like Owen, Brown has been waiting for nearly two years since her appointment for a confirmation vote, the target of efforts to block her put together by every liberal and left-leaning group you can think of. Needless to say, our friends the militant feminists who proclaim their devotion to female equality are among those shrieking the loudest objections to this talented and strong-minded–but politically conservative–woman.

There is an additional indignity visited upon Brown: She is African-American. Liberals view blacks as their wholly-owned subsidiaries, so the attacks about her have reached a level of nastiness that recalls…the complaints about Clarence Thomas, another African-American jurist who dared dissent from the diktats of the plantation-masters of the Democratic Party who believe they have a right to tell blacks how to think.

Here is National Review’s Peter Kirsanov’s summation:

“The black sharecropper’s daughter, born in segregated Alabama, has been excoriated as a closet member of the Ku Klux Klan who, at least according to the Senate minority leader, would like nothing better than to return America to ‘Civil War days.’ Left-leaning political cartoonists depict her as an Aunt Jemima on steroids, complete with exaggerated physical features typically found only in the racist literature distributed by hate groups. She’s been called insensitive to the rights of minorities, the plight of the poor, and the difficulties of the disabled. Her opponents warn that she is ‘the far right’s dream judge’ and that ‘(s)he embodies Clarence Thomas’s ideological extremism and Antonin Scalia’s abrasiveness and right-wing activism.’ And her opponents are plentiful, a who’s who of Left-wing advocacy groups: Planned Parenthood, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, NAACP, NOW, People for the American Way, National Abortion Federation, Feminist Majority, and the American Association of University Women, just to name a few.”

And here’s Thomas Sowell

“What the left-wing can never forgive her for is upholding the right of California voters to ban racial quotas. More than four and a half million Californians voted for Proposition 209, which outlawed group preferences and quotas. But liberals wanted the state Supreme Court to over-rule the voters. Janice Rogers Brown refused and instead wrote the majority opinion upholding the voters’ right to make the laws under which they live.”

Of course, since most Americans, like most Californians, loathe racial quotas, Brown’s opponents have steered clear of this topic and tried to paint Brown as a judicial extremist on other grounds. The latest meme–started by Stuart Taylor in National Journal and currently making the rounds of newspaper op-ed pages–is that Brown is a “Lochnerian.” That’s because she gave a speech expressing admiration of a 1905 Supreme Court decision in a case called Lochner vs. New York striking down a state law mandating a a 40-hour work week on the grounds that a state can’t regulate people’s right to contract for their own working hours. It was just a speech on Brown’s part, not a court opinion–and frankly, I think there’s something to be said for her position, in light of France’s recent, economically disastrous experiment with a mandatory 35-hour work week.

In addition, Brown dissented to the California Supreme Court’s decision in San Remo Hotel vs. San Francisco. In that case, the high court upheld a San Francisco ordinance requiring owners of Skid Row hotels who would like to upgrade them to serve tourists to fork over a huge fee–about 80 percent of the construction costs of the converted units–to a city fund devoted to preserving cheap hotels for the poor and elderly. The ordinance–which effectively forces Skid Row hotel-owners to stay in the Skid Row-hotel business forever–sounds like a confiscation of property to me, and it apparently did to Brown as well. But it’s the kind of measure that assuages the consciences of rich liberals living in the most expensive city in the United States–so Brown had to be an “extreme right-winger” to suggest overturning it.

But as Kirsanow wrote, Brown’s actual judicial record is a model of judicial restraint:

“She’s compiled an extensive library of opinions while serving on the California supreme court the last ten years. That record reveals a judge committed to steadfast adherence to precedent and textual interpretation. There’s nothing in her opinions, including that in San Remo Hotel, outside of the legal mainstream. Critics who charge that Brown might give in to Lochnerian impulses if she were elevated to a United States Supreme Court unchecked by appellate review should consider that her position on the California supreme court provided numerous opportunities to be a judicial activist, yet she took advantage of none of those opportunities.” 

I’ll end with some thoughts today from the blog of La Shawn Barber, herself a conservative African-American who’s gotten the Brown treatment for expressing her views:

“Do you ever wonder why someone like Justice Janice Rogers Brown puts up with the ridicule, rudeness and downright hatred of people who don’t even know her?

“I’m in awe of her dedication to the rule of law in the face of withering criticism by people who believe she’s unfit to serve the people of California, although 76 percent of the voters elected the ‘extreme right winger’ to the California Supreme Court.

“I don’t wonder why Justice Brown subjects herself to harsh criticism and scorn. It’s not complicated. She believes in ideals that transcend herself. On a much smaller scale, I get the same treatment. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve discovered just how overtly bigoted white liberals can be, while paying lip service to ‘equality’ and ‘diversity.’ Because they hear what black liberals say about me, they suddenly feel bold enough cross the line as far as race is concerned.

“Facing the truth is often painful, and hearing it from one of your own doesn’t make it easier. I’m not always right, and neither are they. But it’s important that we respect each other enough to at least consider the other side, not to necessarily be persuaded by other ideas. As someone with the good fortune to be born in America, I feel it’s my duty to exercise the fought-and-died-for freedom to speak my mind.

“Justice Rogers takes the duty much further, serving as arbiter of justice and adherent to the rule of law.”

So I’m wishing the best of luck today to Janice Rogers Brown.