NCJW Opposes Nomination of Sutton and Cook to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

February 11, 2003, Washington, DC – The National Council of Jewish Women has announced its opposition to the nomination of Jeffrey A. Sutton and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook to seats on the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement on the nominations:

"The National Council of Jewish Women is deeply concerned about the fact that these nominations were rushed through the Judiciary Committee without adequate time to examine either nominee's record or judicial philosophy. The Constitution obligates the Senate to "advise and consent" on judicial nominations. So far the White House has not sought the advice of the Senate before announcing nominations to the federal bench, and without time to fully study and deliberate on nominees, the Senate cannot offer its informed "consent"either.

"NCJW is troubled by Jeffrey Sutton's efforts, in the name of federalism, to end the ability of the federal government to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Sutton persuaded the Court by 5-4 to agree that Congress could not empower state employees to sue their employers for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also won another 5-4 decision that individuals cannot sue for their rights under the "spending clause" of the Constitution – the clause that ties federal aid to anti-discrimination requirements. Many believe his theory of federalism would undermine the federal government's ability to protect the right to privacy and reproductive freedom as well. His record certainly bears greater scrutiny before confirmation to a high court.

"Justice Cook is an extreme conservative, who has dissented from the moderate Ohio Supreme Court a record 313 times, mostly on behalf of conservative and business interests. A member of the rightwing Federalist Society, she subscribes to their aim of promoting a narrow view of the constitution that would weaken the federal government's ability to protect the rights of individuals, including the right to privacy, and to enforce anti-discrimination laws. Her election was endorsed by Ohio Right to Life.

"The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is deeply divided and contentious. The addition of Mr. Sutton and Justice Cook to lifetime posts on that court would exacerbate rather than heal these divisions. It is especially disturbing that despite the controversial nature of these nominations, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint hearing for Mr. Sutton, Justice Cook, and another controversial judicial nominee, John G. Roberts, so that senators did not have time to question each of them thoroughly for the record. Given what we already know about these two nominees, and what we have been unable to learn due to the truncated hearing process, NCJW is opposed to their confirmation."

NCJW is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works to improve the quality of life for women, children and families and to ensure individual rights and freedoms through research, education, advocacy, and community service programs initiated by its network of 90,000 volunteers, supporters and members nationwide. It has launched BenchMark: NCJW's Campaign to Save Roe, a national effort to educate and mobilize NCJW members, the Jewish community, and friends and allies everywhere to promote a federal bench with judges that support fundamental freedoms, including a woman's right to choose.