May 24, 2018 

LAWT News Service 

 

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris spoke out against Wendy Vitter, nominee to be U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana with a history of extensive advocacy against women’s reproductive healthcare. In her statement, Harris also cited Vitter’s inability to acknowledge whether the landmark 1954 ruling against segregated schools in Brown v Board of Education was decided correctly.

 

“I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools because of Brown v. Board of Education,” Harris said. “With all due respect to my colleagues, to suggest that a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the bench, that [Vitter] should be excused when asked about something that is apparently so evident - whether or not Brown v. Board of Education is binding – [that] she should be excused for responding to that question, quote, ‘I would respectfully not comment.’ And we are supposed to excuse her because caution would dictate apparently that that is the answer she should give? I find it deeply troubling, and in fact I find the logic actually is not sustainable.”

 

Harris also expressed her opposition to Andrew Oldham, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, citing that in his previous testimony, Oldham “refused to acknowledge the simple fact that voter discrimination still exists.”

 

Full transcript of Harris’ Statement:

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

As has been mentioned, today May 17 is the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. My entire life I have celebrated this day.

 

I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools because of Brown v. Board of Education. Two decades after that, I joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s office that was once led by Earl Warren, who of course championed Brown v. Board of Education.

 

And to hear the conversation happening today, I find deeply troubling. With all due respect to my colleagues, to suggest that a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the bench, that she should be excused when asked about something that is apparently so evident, whether or not Brown v. Board of Education is binding. She should be excused for responding to that question, quote, “I would respectfully not comment.” And we are supposed to excuse her because caution would dictate apparently that that is the answer she should give. I find it deeply troubling, and in fact I find the logic actually is not sustainable. That would suggest because Brown v. Board of Education is so apparently and obviously binding, why should she have to answer because caution dictates she doesn’t. That might suggest by logic, if asked do you love your mother, you might respond, “I would respectfully not comment because caution would dictate I not comment.” It doesn’t hold water.

 

I will also not support that nominee because in my view someone who seeks a lifetime appointment should be someone who has evidenced a record of having the ability to be trusted by the American public when they walk into a court room to be unbiased and fair.

 

However, Ms. Vitter has extreme views as she has evidenced on a range of issues, from women’s health to immigrant rights.

 

For example, she has claimed that Planned Parenthood kills over 150,000 females a year. She has also promoted discredited science on reproductive health services.

 

It is hard to review Ms. Vitter’s entire record, and come away thinking that she would be a fair and impartial judge. And for that reason I will oppose her nomination.

 

I further want to express my opposition to Andrew Oldham, a nominee for the 5th Circuit, we have mentioned, because he refused to acknowledge the simple fact that voter discrimination still exists when I asked him that in our hearing. He refused to acknowledge a simple fact.

 

And again, this is not a tough question. Chief Justice Roberts stated in Shelby County, quote, “voting discrimination still exists: no one doubts that,” end quote.

 

And yet, even as we continue to see countless reports of voting discrimination across this country, Mr. Oldham would not acknowledge it.

 

For that reason, I will be opposing his nomination as well.

 

I thank you.

Category: News


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