NAACP Chairman Calls Bush Judicial Nominees Anti-Civil Rights

Seating conservative judges could roll back civil rights gains

Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors, today said the Bush Administration's judicial nominees "are the most conservative of any recent president" and if they are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, "they will weaken and roll back civil rights laws, exposing minority Americans to unfair treatment without the prospect of remedy or relief."

Speaking at a Washington, D.C. press conference, Bond said: "On racial discrimination, the president's federal district judges score the lowest of any modern chief executive." Since more than 200 Bush judicial appointees were able to win Senate approval Bond said there is no reason for the Senate to change rules that allow senators to filibuster to block senate confirmation of certain judicial nominees. Bond was joined at the press conference by Judith Lichtman, Vice Chair, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), LCCR Executive Director Wade Henderson, Senators Edward Kennedy (D.Mass) and Patrick Leahy (D., VT) and Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Bond and nearly 20 civil rights leaders from the nation's leading civil rights organizations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nevada) urging the senators to oppose the so-called "nuclear option".

"Why are the President and his supporters so afraid to take their chances now without changing the rules that resulted in seating the present judges?" Bond said. "The answer is that some of his current nominees are even more extreme than their predecessors, and promise to wreak even more damage on the fragile system of civil rights protections won at great cost and sacrifice. Under the present system, they cannot win. They'd rather pervert the process than lose."

Bond, a veteran civil rights leader, said: "Using race ? comparing today's struggle with the civil rights community's battles to end filibusters in the past ? is an offensive misuse of history. It suggests that people of color aren't bright enough to see the difference between those who oppose and those who support civil rights. It suggests a distorted equivalence, that fights for constitutional rights and fights against them are all the same.

"It is insulting to the memory of those heroic warriors ? in the Congress and in the streets ? who fought for their beliefs and our rights, and who prevailed because their cause was just. Those who argue for drastic change today are unwilling to submit their ideas ? and their nominees ? to the same test under the same standards and the same rules that have prevailed in the United States for decades and decades. Americans understand that these nominees are far, far out of the judicial mainstream. The ideas they hold, the rulings they have made, their speeches ? place them in a dim and gloomy legal netherworld where few Americans wish to dwell.

"It is especially insulting to clothe one nominee, Justice Janice Rogers Brown, in pigment rather than principle, substituting race for nationality and color for capability.

"Frustrated at their inability to convince Americans that their nominees are conventional conservatives and not the extremists their records reveal them to be, they have resorted to changing the rules because they know that otherwise they cannot win.

"They tried this in the House of Representatives with the ethics rules. That flawed version of "Texas Hold 'em" didn't work, and this one won't either. Playing the race card once again only demonstrates how bankrupt their goals are ? and how desperate they are to win at any cost. They are truly dealing from the bottom of the deck. Americans know a joker when they see one. And they will not forget or forgive."

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

CONTACT: NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125

< View All Press Releases