Protect ALL civil rights|
2003-01-28, 5:11 p.m.
This applies to all those who are disabled or may become disabled (that means YOU, if you are still breathing).
Washington, DC - A coalition of more than 400 national, state, and local disability organizations is opposing Jeffrey Sutton, President Bush's controversial pick to fill a lifetime seat on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. As the Senate Majority leadership today announced Sutton's hearing date of January 29th, opposition events in Washington and around the nation are also being scheduled.
Coalition partners include the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), ADAPT, National Association of the Deaf, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Autism National Committee, Bazelon Center for Mental Heath Law, The American Council of the Blind, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and many others. (See www.adawatch.org for a list of organizations, Stop Sutton! Petition, and more info.)
Advocates organized by the Ability Center of Greater Toledo will leave Sutton's home state of Ohio on January 29th and join disability rights supporters from around the nation in Washington on January 30th. The event at the U.S. Capitol is being oordinated by the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) as part of the organization's ADA Watch program. Sutton's confirmation is being opposed because of his history of activism to roll back disability rights laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as federal protections regarding Civil Rights, Age Discrimination, Violence Against Women, and the rights of Medicaid recipients.
Jim Ward, NCDR's president stated today: "As the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose words and actions have been a model for the disability rights movement, it is deeply troubling that the U.S. Senate will be considering a nominee - a lawyer who has
spent most of his career rolling back disability and civil rights protections - for a lifetime seat on the Federal Court." Ward continued, "With strong ties to the Federalist Society and its extreme State's
Rights agenda, Sutton has aggressively pursued a national role as the leading advocate for a group of far-right legal theorists attempting to limit Congress' power to protect to protect individuals' civil rights."
"Sutton actively fought to eliminate the rights of state employees seeking damage claims for discrimination under the ADA. He fought to strip Medicaid beneficiaries of their legal rights to sue for services. He even fought on the wrong side of the historic Olmstead decision, arguing that unnecessarily keeping people with disabilities in institutions was not a form of discrimination."
"Sadly, Sutton is just one of many troubling judicial nominees who pose threats to the ADA and other disability and civil rights laws. Nominees including Deborah Cook, Charles W. Pickering, Pricilla Owen, Carolyn
Kuhl and others share records which demonstrate a propensity towards judicial activism that promotes the unelected undoing the work that a democratically elected Congress did at the insistence of the people. Theirs is a commitment to ideology rather than justice."
"The Senate should reject this activist nominee and call on President Bush to pick judicial nominees whose records indicate support for Congress' authority to protect and advance civil rights, as well as for
the ADA - the historic national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities."
To President George W. Bush, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Patrick Leahy, and members of the U.S. Senate:
President George W. Bush has declared that: "Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals. And the founding ideals of our nation and, in fact, the founding ideals of the political party I represent was, and remains today, the equal dignity and equal rights of every American";
Numerous editorials have called for a reassessment of President Bush's judicial nominees, including the New York Times editorial of December 22, 2002 which stated: "It seems clearer than ever that the White House and the Senate should conduct a more rigorous review of current and future judicial nominees' ecords"..."and disqualify any whose commitment to equal rights is at all in doubt;"
People with disabilities are fully deserving of the federal civil rights protections included in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
Jeffrey Sutton, nominated last year to the U.S. Court of Appeals for theSixth Circuit, has been a leader in the effort to limit congressional power to enact laws protecting civil rights. Sutton has prevailed in a series of 5-4 cases before the Supreme Court that have curtailed civil rights, including the Board of Trustees of Alabama v. Garrett, which successfully challenged the constitutionality of applying the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to states as employers. (Sutton argued
that the protections of the ADA were "not needed" to remedy discrimination by states against people with disabilities. This decision prevents persons with disabilities from collecting monetary damages from
state employers. Most significantly, it has resulted in fewer attorneys being willing to represent individuals in ADA cases against state employers.);
Sutton filed a brief representing the state of Georgia before the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. arguing that unnecessarily keeping people with disabilities in institutions was not discrimination. (Ruling
against the segregation and unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities, the Supreme Court reversed in a groundbreaking decision supporting desegregation.)
Sutton has successfully argued against civil rights in Alexander v. Sandoval (holding that there is no private right of action under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act's disparate impact regulations); and United States v. Morrison (holding that the civil remedy provisions of the Violence Against Women Act was beyond Congress's power to enact).
Sutton has not just acted as an advocate for his clients, but has admitted that he is often "on the lookout" for cases that support his hostility towards Federal civil rights protections and has strongly advocated going far beyond the Court's 5-4 majority in restricting Congress's power to protect civil rights;
THEREFORE, BE IT KNOWN
The undersigned joins hundreds of disability and civil rights organizations in opposing the confirmation of Jeffrey Sutton to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and respectfully requests that the U.S. Senate vote against his confirmation. The undersigned further requests that President Bush select judicial nominees supportive of disability and civil rights.
Please Distribute and Fax Completed Petitions (without cover) to:
Contact [email protected] for an electronic version of this petition or go to
Jim Ward, President
National Coalition for Disability Rights
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004
V: 202-661-4722 F: 202-318-4040
NCDR Projects include:
ADA Watch, Wired On Wheels, and
the 2004 DisabilityRights Tour
Jim Ward, President
National Coalition for Disability Rights
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20004
V: 202.661.4722 F: 202.318.4040 E: [email protected] W: www.adawatch.org
"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.