Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Brownback opposes judge’s attendance at same-sex marriage ceremony

Senator’s resistance puts district court nominee’s status in limbo

October 27, 2006


— A Michigan judge whose nomination to the federal bench is stalled over her appearance at a lesbian commitment ceremony says she attended as a friend, not to give legal sanction.

The nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff to be a U.S. District Court judge is on hold because Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is not satisfied with her response to questions about her views on same-sex marriage, a spokesman for the senator said Thursday.

Neff's status has been in limbo since last month, when Brownback placed his procedural hold - using a technique that allows a lone senator to stall a nomination. Brownback wanted to know whether there was anything illegal or improper about the 2002 ceremony in Massachusetts and how Neff's actions might shape her judicial philosophy.

In an Oct. 12 letter to Brownback that was released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Neff said a minister presided over the ceremony and she insisted her attendance would not affect her ability to act fairly as a federal judge.

"The ceremony, which was entirely private, took place in Massachusetts, where I had no authority to act in any official capacity and where, in any event, the ceremony had no legal effect," Neff wrote.

She said her family had lived next door to one of the women, Mary Curtin, for more than two decades and considers Curtin part of the extended family.

"When Mary and her partner, Karen Adelman, asked me to participate in their commitment ceremony by delivering a homily, it was not different from being asked by my own daughters to be part of an important event in their lives," Neff wrote.

Neff declined to answer Brownback's questions on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage or civil unions, saying it would be improper to address questions that might come before her as a federal judge.

"She did not really address the judicial philosophy questions to his satisfaction," Brownback spokesman Brian Hart said. He would not say what Brownback planned to do next.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has declined Brownback's request to bring Neff back for a second hearing, a committee spokeswoman said Thursday. The committee has approved Neff's nomination, which is pending before the full Senate.

Brownback, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, has traveled to Michigan and other states this year while he considers a presidential bid in 2008.

Commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples usually are symbolic and carry no legal rights. Massachusetts did not recognize gay marriages in 2002 but legalized same-sex marriage two years later after a ruling from its highest court.

President Bush nominated Neff and two others to fill three vacancies in Michigan as part of a compromise this year with Michigan Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Neff has a liberal reputation, while the other nominees are considered conservatives.


WilburM 11 years, 7 months ago

My wife (especially) and I know Janet Neff personally. She is a wonderful person, and a fair judge. Talk about not getting a fair shake, especially after a deal was cut with the White House for three nominations, of which Janet is the only Democrat.

Brownback is applying standards to her that he did not apply to Alito or Roberts. It's pure rattle-the-base politics and it demeans the process and the US Senate.

Senator -- release the hold and allow the deal that your president negotiated, and the Senate Committee approves, to go through.

Katara 11 years, 7 months ago

Don't let Patriotman mislead you on the votes. It is 70% of people who voted. That 70% figure he likes to toss around claiming it is all Kansans of voting age is bunk. If you want to claim all Kansans, the figure is closer to 21%. Do the math & compare the population total of Kansans aged 18 & older vs. the actual number of people who voted & then compare the total number to the actual number of people who voted to ban gan marriage.

As usual, Brownback is anti-freedom. He apparently feels it is okay for him to pick and choose which events you may attend and which friends you may have.

Neff has answered her questions about the ceremony quite well.

Jeffrey Watts 11 years, 7 months ago

Quote: "The state of Kansas passed a law to ban gay marriage. 70% of Kansans voted because they view it as an abomination."

Since the right loves to throw around the "islamo-fascist" term nowadays, perhaps we should start calling freaks like him "christano-fascists"? I honestly don't see much of a difference.

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