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April 29, 2005
Janice Rogers Brown, In Her Own Words

One of the most significant travesties of the judicial confirmation war that the Democrats launched after losing the Senate majority in 2003 has been the damage done to the reputations of those jurists nominated to the federal appellate bench by George Bush. Ten of the thirty-four nominations sent to the Senate by Bush have not only been blocked by the minority through the unprecedented use of the filibuster, but they have been vilified by Democrats as "Neanderthals" (Ted Kennedy), "extremists", "theocrats", and worse. Three of these nominees have declined to pursue their nominations, effectively curtailing their careers in public service, in order to restore their reputations and spare their families any further degradation at the hands of rabid Democrats insistent on pursuing strategies of personal destruction. Seven have valiantly decided to fight for their rightful place on the appellate bench.

One of the latter is Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who currently serves on California's State Supreme Court. Brown received her appointment from Governor Pete Wilson in 1996 and has served almost nine years on the bench as an associate justice. Prior to that assignment, Brown served two years as a state appellate justice, and has also held senior staff assignments for Governor Wilson in multiple roles. She also spent eight years in the Attorney General's office, handling criminal and civil cases. In her last election, California voters approved her continuance as a Supreme Court Justice with 76% of the vote -- in a state where Bush only received 45% and Barbara Boxer could only muster 58% of a reliably liberal electorate.

Without a doubt, Brown's experience not only qualifies her for the federal appellate bench, it makes her one of the nation's leading candidates for the position. Her judicial temperament raised no eyebrows in California, belying the notion that she has operated as some sort of covert radical. In fact, her speeches and her writings reflect the type of intellectual independence and philosophical broadness that one would strongly desire for the appellate bench. And yet, Senate Democrats rail against Brown as some sort of judicial rube or rabble-rouser intent on dismantling freedom and liberty.

These Democrats should read the speech that Brown herself wrote and delivered to graduates of Catholic University's Columbus School of Law shortly after her nomination to the federal bench. Brown spoke to the defense of freedom and the choices that one must make to uphold liberty. Brown used an amazingly broad number of influences to urge CU students to choose liberty and freedom by the pursuit of truth:

The question for you will be whether the regime of freedom which they founded can survive the relentless enmity of the slave mentality. It will really be whether you want freedom to survive. The answer may be no. There are many reasons to forsake freedom.

Some will do so because they are ambitious and can only make their mark by setting out upon a new path. Abraham Lincoln described this dynamic many years before he became president. He said there will always be people among us (from the family of the Lion or the tribe of the Eagle) who scorn to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, who thirst and burn for distinction, and who will obtain it whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving free men.3

Some may reject freedom because security has always been more comfortable than freedom and infinitely more comforting to the herd of independent minds.4

Perhaps the most likely reason for a negative response is the fatigue engendered by the accumulated decisions of so many revolutions.5 Freedom requires certitude and we are now so enlightened that, in Pascal's phrase, we know too much to be ignorant and too little to be wise.

I, of course, hope that this generation will rise to the challenge; that our present great necessities will call forth great virtues. Perhaps that is why, when I tried to think about what I might say to you as you commence your life in the law, only one word, one image, surfaced. The word, the image, was Light. Sometimes sharp and white, like the flash of a lighthouse beacon. Sometimes the soft, full radiance of sunrise. But, always, light. How odd, I thought. But then the brochure for the Columbus School of Law arrived with the motto of the Catholic University of America emblazoned across its cover. Deus lux mea est. God is my light. And then there was the Cardinal's dinner, held in San Francisco this year. The program began with a wonderful film about the university which was entitled are you ready Sharing the Light. Aha! At this point, even the dull witted must begin to see ... the light. And finally, leafing through a book of essays seeking inspiration, these words leapt out at me: The night is for spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12)

Brown makes clear that having faith does not mean establishing a theocracy or a Christian Taliban. It means defending freedom:

In some ways, it seems we have been moving backward: bringing chaos out of order instead of the other way around. At least that is how things stood until quite recently when, in one instant of anguish, pity, grief, and rage, we had a moment of awful moral clarity. All perspectives are not equal. Evil is not merely a matter of opinion. Suddenly and undeniably, we understood that there are ideas worth defending to the death. There are lies that must be defeated at all costs. Freedom is not free. And it will never be the lasting legacy of the lazy or the indifferent. For what we ultimately pursue is a true vision of justice and ordered liberty, respectful of human dignity and the authority of God.15 What we need is to revive our passion for freedom and our determination to defend vigorously, rationally, and without apology, our way of life, which is unique and deserves not scorn nor diffidence, but devotion.

By accepting the beguiling proposition that all perspectives are equal, we left Western Civilization, the God of Light, and light itself, undefended. We left the very spirit of truth desolate and abandoned on its high hill. Indeed, we deemed them unworthy of defense. But, there may have been a reason why Truth, Justice and the American Way are seamlessly conjoined in the phrase with which I began today's exam. There can be no discussion about the nature of justice and the essence of law when human will is made the supreme arbiter of all human values.16 Without truth, there is neither justice nor freedom. Once truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try to set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery.17

If our commitment to truth and justice was, in fact, the foundation of the vision that made America, then moral and cu1tural relativism is more than an educational anomaly, it is a calamity. That is why the lawyer classifieds need a new ad. Wanted: Keepers of the faith; Defenders of light.

That faith to which she refers is the faith that freedom and truth inevitably remain intertwined. Efforts to render truth as relative eventually result in the quashing of freedom. The essence of American ideals of freedom were based in natural law -- that the Creator endowed Man with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution further extrapolated these as the right to select one's own rulers, the right to free speech, the right to self-defense, and the right to worship or not worship as one pleased. When the Creator is removed from this equation, then rights become a purely human construct, subject to relativism, and undoubtably mutable to the whims of the moment.

The great secular movements of the twentieth century -- communism and fascism -- left millions of deliberate deaths in their wake as the Creator-designated sanctity of life gave way to utilitarianism. Liberty was sacrificed for the common good, and eventually calcified into the tyranny of the State above all. Dissent, the natural state of human beings and the natural right given by a Creator through free will, became intolerable, and those who practiced it were banished from public life.

If you read what Janice Rogers Brown wrote two years ago, you cannot come away with the conclusion that she represents a threat to freedom. Instead, she is demonstrably one of freedom's greatest defenders, all the more remarkable for a woman who descended from slaves and grew up under the oppression of discrimination in Alabama during the 1950s and 1960s. Her ascension to the judiciary should inspire everyone who has the opportunity to study her and her speeches and writings. That she inspires such vitriol, hatred, and hysteria from the likes of Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer says much about them and their Democratic colleagues, and nothing about Janice Rogers Brown.

It's far past time for the GOP caucus to start defending Brown and their other nominees. To do otherwise is to add more insult to the unacceptable slander she has already received.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 29, 2005 5:00 PM

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» Any dissent makes you the enemy from The Unalienable Right
The NY Times editorial April 28th contains this gem: On the bench, Justice Brown - a black woman raised in segregated Alabama - is a consistent enemy of minorities... (Via Michelle Malkin) This is nothing but pure, unsubstantiated race-baiting. M... [Read More]

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