The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing as early as Tuesday, November 16 on the confirmation of Thomas B. Griffith to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Griffith's extreme views on the enforcement of equal opportunity for women in educational institutions and the implications of those views for other civil rights issues make him an unfit candidate for a seat on the federal bench. NCJW strongly opposes Griffith’s confirmation.


Who is Thomas B. Griffith?

  • Thomas B. Griffith was born to American parents in Yokohama, Japan, in 1954 and grew up outside Washington, DC, in suburban Virginia. He received a BA summa cum laude from Brigham Young University in 1978, and a JD from the University of Virginia Law School in 1985, where he served on the Virginia Law Review.
  • In 1985, Griffith became an associate with Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson in Washington, DC. In 1989, he joined the firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding as an associate and became a partner in 1993.
  • Griffith became legal counsel to the US Senate in 1995, a nonpartisan post in which he represented the Senate, its members, committees, and employees in litigation relating to their constitutional powers. He represented the institutional interests of the Senate in the impeachment trial of President Clinton and in the Line Item Veto Act litigation, which resulted in two noted Supreme Court decisions. He returned to Wiley, Rein, and Fielding in 1999 as partner.
  • In August 2000, Griffith became general counsel and assistant to the president of Brigham Young University in Utah.
  • Since 1995, Griffith has held several advisory posts. Among others, in 2002 and 2003, he served on the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which was created by the Secretary of Education to review and analyze the progress made in creating equal opportunities in intercollegiate athletics for men and women as a result of Title IX.
      Why does NCJW oppose Griffith's nomination?

  • Much of Griffith's legal career has been in jobs where his advice and opinions were rendered behind the scenes. However, his public views on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the civil rights law that ensures equal opportunity to women in educational institutions that receive federal funds, are very disturbing. They became clear while he served on Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which studied enforcement of Title IX regarding intercollegiate athletics. Griffith went on record opposing the standards used by the federal government to enforce Title IX for more than 30 years. The commission report was eventually rejected by President Bush after a public outcry.
  • In particular, Griffith wanted to drop one of the tests used to evaluate compliance with Title IX – whether athletic programs offer opportunities to men and women in substantial proportion to their representation in the student body. Griffith called this proportionality standard "illegal, unfair and wrong" and even "morally wrong," and he claimed that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Even the commission rejected Griffith's views, which would have eviscerated enforcement of Title IX. While on the commission, Griffith dismissed the fact that eight US circuit courts of appeals have upheld the standard, saying "the courts got it wrong," and that "I don't believe in the infallibility of the judiciary." He later claimed his proposal "went down in flames." because it was "radical."
  • Griffith also opposed "numeric measures" even to describe the existing allocation of opportunities. This hostility has ominous implications for key provisions of civil rights case law. Griffith's approach would endanger the use of numeric measures in affirmative action used as a remedy to correct proven discrimination and as evidence of the disparate impact of a particular policy or practice on minorities and women.

Who else opposes Thomas Griffith?

Alliance for Justice
American Association of University Women
Feminist Majority
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Legal Momentum
National Women's Law Center
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women and Families
Women's Sports Foundation

Additional Information:

July 9, 2004
NCJW Opposes Confirmation of Thomas B. Griffith to DC Circuit Court of Appeals