Senate Confirmation of D. Brooks Smith 'Disappointing'

The Senate voted 64-35 today to confirm the nomination of Judge D. Brooks Smith to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

"Today's Senate vote to confirm Judge Smith's nomination to the appeals court was very disappointing," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "We still believe that Judge Smith does not deserve a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals, particularly in light of his violation of the Code of Conduct and his broken promise to the Senate concerning his membership in a discriminatory club."

In his 1988 confirmation hearings, Smith assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would resign his membership in a fishing and hunting club that didn't admit women unless they changed their bylaws. He failed to do so, remaining a member of the club for a decade until a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals became vacant.

"In the confirmation hearings held in May of this year, Senator Leahy did an excellent job summarizing many of the serious problems with Judge Smith's record," said Neas. "It is troubling that the Senate confirmed Smith despite his ethical lapses and questions about his judicial philosophy and record."

Neas praised the senators who voted against the nomination, and said other Democratic and moderate Republican senators must be willing to resist pressure from the White House to allow the federal courts to become dominated by right-wing ideologues.

"The Constitution puts the Senate on equal footing when it comes to judicial nominations. Therefore, Senators must be ready and willing to stand up to the White House and reject nominees whose records require it. That will encourage the White House to nominate more moderate mainstream nominees."

People For the American Way is one of many public interest organizations that opposed Smith’s promotion to the appeals court based on his judicial philosophy and views on federalism, his record of troubling decisions and reversals, his membership in a discriminatory club and his lack of candor with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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