Title IX opponent Thomas Griffith was given a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 73 to 24 vote today, adding to the second highest court in the country another unqualified, right-wing jurist whose past record includes contempt for the law and opposition to civil rights, women's rights and separation of church and state.
Senate Republicans repeatedly blocked Bill Clinton's nominees to the D.C. Circuit, claiming that there were already enough judges in that circuit and that no more were needed, but now their fraud has been exposed as mere partisan politics: they have added two more extremist judges to that court in only one week. The Republicans clearly understand that this court is the training ground for the next Supreme Court nominees and had to ensure that the openings were theirs to fill.
"By lying about their motives, they get to have it both ways. They used 'low caseload' as an excuse to reject Clinton's nominees to two open seats on this court, but now are happy to confirm unnecessary judges for those same seats as long as they're Republicans who will change the balance of the court," NOW President Kim Gandy said. "Lying has become a pattern in this administration, and the Republicans have now confirmed a judge whose own lies should have disqualified him."
"Thomas Griffith is particularly offensive to women and girls, because he will be in a position to continue the Bush administration's efforts to reverse our nation's cherished dedication to equal opportunity for girls and women," Gandy added. "This unqualified lawyer who has no respect for women's fundamental rights is not worthy of a lifetime seat on the second most important court in our country."
Griffith has a record of hostility towards Title IX, the law guaranteeing equal educational opportunities for women and girls. When Griffith served on the administration's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics in 2003, he was clear in his opposition to equal opportunities for women in school athletics. Not only did he join a number of the stacked commission's recommendations to erode Title IX protections, but he actually proposed a change which was so extreme that even the anti-Title IX majority on the commission overwhelmingly rejected it.
Although all federal courts which considered the Title IX protections he challenged upheld them as constitutional, Griffith has shown a cavalier attitude toward judicial precedent. When confronted with these court cases, Griffith responded that "the courts got it wrong" and that "I for one don't believe in the infallibility of the judiciary."
"The Bush administration got its wish for an anti-equality judge and now has a strong advocate in the courts as they try to dismantle Title IX," Gandy said.
Not only has Griffith never had a position as a lower court judge, he repeatedly showed a lack of respect for his profession by practicing law without a license for several years. While at a law firm in the District of Columbia, Griffith allowed his license to expire — in two different states — yet continued to practice in D.C. for over a year. He also lied about the lapse in his license to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., claiming that the expiration notification had been sent to his former law firm when in fact the expiration had happened long before he even joined that firm.
Furthermore, Griffith lied under oath about his standing as a lawyer. On the application for the Utah Bar — a test he never took — Griffith stated that he had never been suspended as an attorney when in reality he had been suspended twice from the District of Columbia Bar.
"The so-called 'values party' decided that Griffith's 'ethical lapses' were less important than his extremist judicial philosophy and willingness to ignore established precedent," Gandy said.
"Griffith's disregard of fundamental professional ethical requirements, as well as his disrespect for the rule of law renders him unqualified to be a Court of Appeals judge," Gandy said. "It is outrageous that the Senators elected to represent the people of the United States are so willing to forfeit our hard-fought rights for political gain."