Fair and Just Courts

Senator Hatch Attacks Straw Man over Ricci 'Smear'

People For the American Way responds to Orrin Hatch's comments at the confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Themes from the Right -- Nomination Day

Right-wing political and legal groups and pundits responded to President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court by cranking up their well-funded attack machine, following their pre-fab attack script (they have been attacking her for months as a potential nominee), launching ads against her confirmation, and threatening to use the nomination as a political bludgeon against Democrats from more conservative states.

Day One of Confirmation Hearings a Big Win for Sotomayor

The first day of hearings for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor concluded today with Judge Sotomayor's opening statement. People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement: "Today's hearings went exceptionally well for Judge Sotomayor, and I think she made it very clear why President Obama chose to nominate her for a seat on our nation's highest Court."

PFAW Statement on Frank Ricci Discrimination Cases

PFAW statement about the important role that employment discrimination laws play for all Americans and the Right's use of loaded terms like "reverse discrimination" to attack Judge Sotomayor over the decision in Ricci v. DeStefano.

The Ricci Ruling and the Sotomayor Nomination

In anticipation of a ruling by the Supreme Court in Ricci v. DeStefano today or Monday, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement: "Opponents of Judge Sotomayor have gone to great lengths to use the ruling of her panel in Ricci v. DeStefano against her, and they will surely ramp up their efforts if the Supreme Court overturns the Second Circuit. But the simple fact is that the Supreme Court's ruling, whatever it may be, will not reflect upon Sotomayor's jurisprudence."

Supreme Court Strip Search Decision Supports Sotomayor Dissent

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling in the case Safford Unified School District v. April Redding declaring unconstitutional a school's strip search of a 13 year old girl but found that the individual officials involved were protected by qualified immunity. Debbie Liu, General Counsel at People For the American Way, issued the following statement: "The Court was correct in ruling that Savana Redding's Constitutional rights were violated when she was strip searched at school. Students don't lose their rights at the school house gate, and strip searching a teenage girl to look for ibuprofen is not a reasonable course of action."

Nomination on Track, Sotomayor Hearings Set to Begin July 13th

In response to the announcement of the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan had the following statement: "Today's announcement is a clear sign that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is on track to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor is an eminently qualified nominee, and the misguided efforts by some prominent Republicans and their right-wing allies to smear her have failed."

African American Ministers Urge Swift Confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor To the Supreme Court

Statement by African American Ministers in Action Chair Rev. Tim McDonald

In the days following President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, the right-wing has hurled false, partisan-fueled attacks of incompetence and "reverse racism," as they strategize on how to oppose a nominee with more federal judicial experience than anyone currently serving on the Court. In response to President Obama's nomination of Judge Sotomayor, and the false right-wing attacks, Rev.

PFAW Statement on Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor

In reponse to the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan said, "President Obama has made a superb choice. Judge Sotomayor has one of the sharpest intellects on the federal bench. She's shown that she'll bring an open mind to the Court and rule on each case according to its particular merits. This nomination is good news for people who care about the future of our rights and liberties. Now it's up to our Senators to avoid the distraction of attacks from the far right and work for a smooth, fair confirmation process.

Groups Deliver More than 140,000 Petitions to Impeach Bybee

People For the American Way and MoveOn.org Political Action today delivered more than 140,000 petitions to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers calling for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee for his role in trying to bend the law to justify the Bush administration's torture policies when he headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. After authoring memos explaining how prisoners could be tortured while skirting federal law, but before the memos became public, Bybee was confirmed to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Right Wing Follows Deceptive Script On Supreme Court

A day after news of Justice Souter's planned resignation broke in the news, "dozens" of right-wing leaders representing more than 60 groups got together for a strategy call organized in part by the Judicial Confirmation Network to get everyone fired up and on message. All you need to know about the credibility of this campaign's leaders, and the credibility of their evaluations of potential nominees, is contained in this one sentence from the Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long: "The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court."

Right's Objections to Potential Justices Reveal Anti-Gay Bigotry

Among the attacks launched by right-wing leaders against potential nominees for the Supreme Court have been suggestions that an openly gay Supreme Court Justice would be unacceptable. People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan responded with the following statement: "Let’s be clear. Opposing a Supreme Court nominee because of his or her sexual orientation is inappropriate and unacceptable."

Obama Has Historic Opportunity to Establish Legacy of Justice

In response to the news that Justice David Souter will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the Court's current term, People For the American Way president Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement: "President Barack Obama has the first real opportunity to establish a legacy that will extend far beyond his presidency. He made the Supreme Court a major feature of his campaign and won a strong mandate in November. He has expanded upon his mandate in his first 100 days and should now make a bold choice for the Supreme Court."

Justice Souter to Retire from Supreme Court

In response to media reports that indicate Justice David Souter will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the Court's current term, Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way issued the following statement: "America owes a debt of gratitude to Justice Souter for his service. Justice Souter has shown a deep understanding not only of the law, but of the implications the Court's decisions have in the real world. He has been an important voice against ideological extremism. To fill Justice Souter's seat on the Court, President Obama should nominate someone who can continue his work to defend our personal freedoms and ensure that every person has equal access to justice. In November, President Obama was given a mandate to appoint federal judges who are committed to our core constitutional values of justice, equality, and opportunity for all. That is exactly what he should do."

Restore Justice Telebriefing with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

On Wednesday, April 22, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joined People For the American Way’s members and activists for a telebriefing on the fight to confirm Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

Kathleen Turner Phone Calls Support Confirmation of Dawn Johnsen

Residents of nine states will be receiving automated calls featuring the voice of actress Kathleen Turner supporting the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen. The calls urge constituents to call targeted Senators to demand that they support Johnsen, President Obama's nominee to lead the Office of Legal Counsel.

White House Releases Bush Torture Memos

Yesterday, the White House released a set of torture memos drafted by the Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush Administration. The memos attempted to justify brutal treatment of detainees, including slamming subjects against wall, striking them repeatedly in the face and abdomen, confining them to small boxes, and threatening them with stinging insects.

Kagan Confirmed as SG, Johnsen Moves to Senate Floor

The Senate today confirmed Elena Kagan as Solicitor General by a vote of 61 to 31. Earlier in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the Senate floor on a near party line vote. People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "The confirmation of Elena Kagan to be the nation's advocate before the Supreme Court is an historic step for women. Just over a century ago, women weren't allowed to practice law or vote — today's vote is a sign of how far we've come. But I was deeply disappointed to see so many members of the GOP put politics ahead of principle in opposing the nomination of Dawn Johnsen as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. Dawn Johnsen has the experience, the intellect, and the integrity to bring respectability back to the OLC, and her confirmation should be above petty politics."

Obama Drops "Enemy Combatant" Designation

The Obama Administration today announced that it would no longer use the designation of "enemy combatant," and will no longer use executive authority to indefinitely detain individuals. PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "Today, President Obama reversed one of the most outrageous policies of the Bush Administration. By dropping the designation of 'enemy combatant,' President Obama is taking a significant step towards reconciling our government’s actions with the principles of the Constitution. In his inaugural address, he claimed to reject the false choice between our ideals and our safety. Today he proved that he means it. I applaud his decision."

David Ogden Confirmed as Deputy Attorney General

Today the Senate voted 65-28 to confirm David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General. People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert said, "It's incredible to think that Senate Republicans considered filibustering David Ogden's nomination even for a second. Ogden is a widely respected attorney with previous Justice Department experience and bipartisan support. He is precisely the type of person we need at the helm of the Justice Department as it tackles the many challenges facing our nation.
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