The Senate voted 66-25 (9 senators did not vote) on May 5, 2003 to confirm Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Cook’s nomination on January 29, 2003. Her hearing was held in conjunction with two other Circuit Court nominees and the nomination was approved in committee on February 27, 2003. This accelerated process did not allow for adequate time for careful scrutiny of this nominee's record and judicial philosophy, which appears to be one of hostility toward constitutional rights, civil rights, and workers' rights.

Who is Justice Cook?

  • Justice Cook was born in 1952 in Pittsburgh, PA. She received a BA degree in 1974 from the University of Akron and a JD in 1978 from the University of Akron School of Law.
  • From 1978 until 1991, Justice Cook was a member of the law firm Roderick, Myers & Linton. Beginning as a law clerk in 1978, Justice Cook became an associate in the law firm upon graduation from law school that year. In 1982, she became a partner in the firm, the first female to do so.
  • In 1991, Justice Cook joined the bench of Ohio's 9th District Court of Appeals, and in 1995 she was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court for a 6-year term. She was re-elected in November 2000.
      Why does NCJW oppose Justice Cook's nomination?

  • Cook is an extreme conservative, endorsed in her last election to the Ohio Supreme Court by Ohio Right to Life. A member of the right-wing Federalist Society, an organization of lawyers promoting a narrow view of the constitution, she has dissented from the moderate Ohio court a record 313 times, mostly on behalf of conservative and business interests. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is deeply divided and contentious. The addition of Justice Cook would exacerbate rather than heal these divisions.
  • Justice Cook has a record of opinions that frequently ignore the facts in a given case to arrive at a legal conclusion favoring business interests over those of ordinary citizens. She has rarely ruled in favor of a worker suing for relief under employment or anti-discrimination laws. In one case, Justice Cook ruled that anti-women or anti-older worker comments in the workplace should not necessarily be considered evidence of bias in discrimination cases.
  • In numerous instances, Justice Cook has ruled that violations of a criminal defendant or prisoner's constitutional rights do not warrant a new trial or reversal of the lower court verdict and that procedural protections may not always be necessary. She has given short shrift to the procedural safeguards crucial to death penalty cases and has denied due process rights to minors. Justice Cook ruled against requiring the State of Ohio to equalize its funding for public schools.
  • Justice Cook's record deserves deliberate consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee before her nomination is confirmed.

Who else opposes Justice Cook?

Alliance for Justice
Americans for Democratic Action
Committee Against Sexual Harassment
Feminist Majority
National Employment Lawyers Association Judicial Oversight Committee
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers
Ohio Citizen Action
People for the American Way
(list in progress)

Additional Information:

February 11, 2003
NCJW Opposes Nomination of Sutton and Cook to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals