NCJW Opposes Nomination of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

April 30, 2004, New York, NY – Washington, DC – The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) opposes the confirmation of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes to the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement:

"The record shows that Justice Sykes has not separated her apparent anti-abortion rights sentiments from her role as an impartial judge. She expressed her sympathy from the bench for two anti-abortion protesters while presiding over a trial in which they were convicted of blocking entry to a Milwaukee abortion clinic by binding their legs with welded pipes to the front of a car. Both protestors had to be forcibly removed by firefighters with blowtorches, but during sentencing, Justice Sykes commended the defendants for their 'fine characters' and 'pure' motivations, and expressed her 'respect . . . for having the courage of [their] convictions and for the ultimate goals [they] sought to achieve' by their blockade. She sentenced the defendants, who together had been arrested 100 prior times for anti-abortion protests, to 60 days in jail with work-release privileges. During her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, she refused to provide her views on Roe v. Wade.

"Justice Sykes has evidenced disregard for the rights of the accused. She refused to overturn a conviction in a case where one of the jurors could not speak English, and in another egregious case, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that evidence gathered by interrogating a person in custody who had not been read the Miranda warning had to be excluded from trial, she was the sole dissenter.

"Justice Sykes was also in the minority when she voted to rule that the state of Wisconsin had no constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate public school education.

"She has been active for many years in the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians self-described as dedicated to combating “orthodox liberal ideology” in the legal profession and promoting “traditional values.” Justice Sykes is not in the legal mainstream, and it would appear she has been selected to join a group of right-wing activist judges already on the 7th Circuit."

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 for all through its network of 90,000 members, supporters, and volunteers 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.