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Representatives of 11 liberal groups vowed Monday to do everything in their power to block California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown’s confirmation to the federal bench. At a news conference at the Sierra Club in San Francisco, representatives of black lawyers, reproductive rights groups, gay rights activists, labor groups and environmentalists, among others, said they banded together to show that opposition to Brown is widespread. Brown faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for a seat on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. “We’re mobilizing our constituencies and we’re calling people who the senators respect,” said Eva Paterson, executive director of the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society. “This is a full-court press.” Joining Paterson’s group in opposing Brown were the California Association of Black Lawyers, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the AFL-CIO, La Raza Lawyers Association, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the National Bar Association and NARAL Pro-Choice America. They join several other liberal groups — such as the NAACP, People for the American Way and the Congressional Black Caucus — who have already denounced Brown’s nomination and have asked President Bush to withdraw her name. The common theme on Monday was that Brown, nominated to the federal bench in July, is a conservative extremist with an atrocious record on civil rights who injects her own conservative political opinions into her rulings. Brown was criticized for specific opinions, dissents and speeches on affirmative action, abortion issues, gay rights and takings cases. “Her personal views are outside the mainstream,” said Art Pulaski, chief California AFL-CIO officer. “Her ideology is hostile to the interests of working people. She cares more about property rights than she does human rights.” Paterson and Gillian Small, president of the black lawyers association, compared Brown to conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Paterson even made an accidental reference to “Clarence Brown.” Small said black groups, eager to have a black voice on the Supreme Court, held out hope that Thomas would come around and not be as conservative as he originally sounded. She said blacks don’t want to get burned again. “We are not willing to give Justice Brown the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “Justice Brown’s record shows she is diametrically opposed to the beliefs and goals of” the California Association of Black Lawyers. Brown was in Washington, D.C., on Monday, and a person in her office said there would be no comment on the mounting opposition. Scott Gerber, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Brown was to have met with the senator Monday. He said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hadn’t decided how she would vote on the nomination. “Her traditional stand on these controversial nominations is not to take a stand until after the hearing,” Gerber said. “She’ll read her opinions and speeches over the next couple of days and go from there.” David Sandretti, a spokesman for Sen. Barbara Boxer, said Boxer has taken no stand yet and didn’t know whether the senator would meet with Brown. While liberal groups are going all out to prevent a confirmation, one of Brown’s friends, Pepperdine University School of Law professor Douglas Kmiec, has gotten 14 California law professors to join him in signing a letter urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to give their approval. “My purpose was to just ask people I knew on various law school faculties and from as many different schools as possible to indicate that this is a woman who, by her judicial service, has been noticed and noticed with approval,” Kmiec said Monday. “It’s important in these hearings for people at some distance to hear from the hometown.” Professors of differing political views at a variety of schools signed the letter, which Kmiec faxed to Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee’s ranking Democrat. Boalt Hall School of Law professor Stephen Barnett, a liberal, said he signed on because he believes Brown has been wrongly criticized. “I have long thought she is the intellectual leader of the court and that she is basically independent and not excessively political,” he said. “She has a point of view with which I would often disagree, but she’s not in the class with Justice Thomas.” Barnett said liberal groups likely targeted Brown because of the fear that she’s being groomed for the Supreme Court. At Monday’s news conference, Paterson and Small both brought up the possibility of Brown moving to the Supreme Court. Paterson called Brown a “stealth candidate” — a black, conservative woman that Bush was trying to slip through as a diversity candidate. “This is a philosophical war,” she said. “And we stand ready to oppose any of these people.” “She might be a nice person to have lunch with,” Small added, “but that doesn’t mean I want to see her on the Supreme Court or the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

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