4th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
On November 19, the Senate voted 55-44 to confirm Judge Dennis Shedd to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Shedd's record as a federal district court judge demonstrates a pattern of disregard for the rights of victims of sexual harassment and racial discrimination and a narrow ideological view of the law. At his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 27th, he refused to state whether he thought the right to privacy included the right to choose abortion.
- Judge Shedd was born in 1953 in Cordova, SC. He received a BA degree from Wofford College in 1975, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1978, he earned a JD from the University of South Carolina Law Center, and in 1980 he was awarded an LLM degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
- From 1978 to 1988, Judge Shedd was a member of the staff of US Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC). He served as Senator Thurmond's Administrative Assistant and as counsel to Senator Thurmond in his role as President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 1982-1984. From 1985-1986 he was Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- For two years (1988-1990), Judge Shedd was a sole practitioner in Columbia, SC, while serving as counsel to the law firm of Bethea, Jordan & Griffin. He also taught law as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law from 1989-1992.
- Nominated by President George Bush to become a federal district court judge in South Carolina in 1990, he was confirmed by the Senate that same year.
- Judge Shedd's actions on the bench as a federal judge demonstrate a pattern of disregard for the rights of victims of sexual harassment and racial discrimination and a narrow ideological view of the law. At his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he refused to state whether he thought the right to privacy included the right to choose abortion, and he admitted that no complainant in a discrimination case had ever won a jury trial in his courtroom.
- Judge Shedd was overruled 9-0 by the Supreme Court when he declared that Congress lacked the power to enact the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act, based on a narrow view of the US Constitution biased in favor of "states' rights." That law was developed in part because anti-abortion activists had used public motor vehicle records to track down and harass doctors, staff, and patients of abortion clinics.
- In every one of his reported decisions, Judge Shedd ruled against employee complainants. In a typical case of his handling of discrimination cases, Judge Shedd dismissed a sexual harassment claim in which evidence showed a woman's supervisor made sexual comments to her on a daily basis; that she told him his comments were offensive; that she and a female manager had taken steps to report the conduct to the company's headquarters, and that she resigned from her job. Judge Shedd noted that the alleged conduct clearly was, from an objective standpoint, sufficiently severe and pervasive to constitute a hostile work environment. Yet Judge Shedd concluded there was no reason to hold a hearing on whether the woman herself subjectively perceived the environment to be abusive.
- The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is already widely regarded as the most conservative federal appeals court in the country. The addition of another judge whose career record demonstrates a narrow view of individual rights and federal remedies for their violation further threatens the residents of states in this circuit.
Alliance for Justice
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
National Abortion Federation
People for the American Way
(list in progress)
November 20, 2002
NCJW Expresses Deep Concern Over Shedd Confirmation
November 14, 2002
NCJW Disturbed by Senate Judiciary Action Approving Extremist Judges
August 15, 2002
NCJW National President Urges Senator Leahy to Oppose Confirmation of Judge Dennis W. Shedd