Washington Under fire from Democrats, federal appellate nominee Janice Rogers Brown on Wednesday defended speeches and decisions she made as a conservative California Supreme Court Justice and promised to rule fairly if promoted to one of the nation's highest courts.
"I have only one agenda when I approach a case, and that is to try to get it right," she told the Senate Judiciary Committee at her confirmation hearing.
Republicans say opposition to her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has more to do with the fact she is a conservative black woman who might one day rise to the Supreme Court.
"She is a conservative African-American woman, and for some that alone disqualifies her nomination to the D.C. Circuit," said committee chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Democrats say they oppose Brown because of her decisions and philosophy, not her race. "There's a lot in your record that troubles me and I think you've got a tough row to hoe up here," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has led filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees.
The 12-member D.C. appeals court decides important government cases involving separation of powers, the role of the federal government, the responsibilities of federal officials and the authority of federal agencies. It now has five Republican and four Democratic appointees.
The committee did not say when it would vote on Brown's nomination, but she is likely to advance past the GOP-controlled committee to the Senate floor. Democrats already are filibustering three of Bush's conservative nominations there.
Three current Supreme Court justices have been promoted from the D.C. court. It has been a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats all year; Democrats blocked Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada until he dropped his nomination this summer.