by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Last week John McCormack earned a “like” from me for pointing out that “Biden can keep his SCOTUS campaign promise and win the vote of every Republican senator” simply by nominating Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Supreme Court. I immediately retweeted, adding, “What a great idea. Let’s get this trending!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to call a sitting president’s attention to Judge Brown’s many virtues. The first was in 2015 when the Obama administration released a report recommending increased levels of federal interference in the affairs of local police forces. Citing Judge Brown’s recent concurrence in United States v. Gross, I said:
If the President really wants to find ways of discouraging police misconduct and improving relations between the police and the public, maybe he should stop convening task forces, and, instead, have a chat with … Judge Brown about reviving the Fourth Amendment.
Even when I wrote those words, however, I knew President Obama would never seek advice from Judge Brown—not about the Fourth Amendment or anything else. When George W. Bush nominated Brown to the D.C. Circuit in 2005, then-Senator Obama denounced her in terms that would have amounted to defamation outside the Senate chamber:
I feel compelled to rise on this issue to express, in the strongest terms, my opposition to the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the DC Circuit. …
If the claimant is powerful … then she is willing to use any tool in her judicial arsenal to make sure the outcome is one they like. If it is a worker or a minority claiming discrimination, then she is nowhere to be found. …
[T]he version of America she is trying to create from her position on the bench … is … a view of America that says there is not a problem that cannot be solved by making sure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Needless to say, Obama’s calumnies were thoroughly refuted by Judge Brown’s record on the D.C. Circuit, and I was glad to have an opportunity to point that out in 2018 when President Trump announced he was looking for someone to succeed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. After providing several examples of exemplary opinions by Judge Brown—opinions that showed just how politically motivated and unfair Obama’s character assassination had been—I said, “Janice Rogers Brown would be an inspired choice for attorney general. Let’s hope President Trump holds her in higher esteem than his predecessor.”
Trump didn’t take my advice, and President Biden certainly isn’t going to take it either. Nevertheless, I’m glad his ill-considered promise to base his Supreme Court choice on race and sex rather than merit has created an occasion for saying yet again how much I admire Janice Rogers Brown. She’s as clear-thinking and highly principled as any jurist who has ever served on a federal court. I wish we had many more like her!