Title IX Critic Approved by Judiciary Committee Despite Questionable Record
The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved Thomas Griffith for a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Griffith was approved 14-4, with Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy (VT), Edward Kennedy (MA), Joseph Biden (DE) and Russell Feingold (WI) voting against him. Griffith will now face a full Senate vote.
Griffith is a staunch opponent of Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. He served on President Bush’s so-called Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which was stacked with opponents of Title IX and ultimately recommended measures that would have weakened enforcement of the law. However, because of the outpouring of support from women’s groups and women athletes, President Bush was ultimately forced to instead reaffirm Title IX.
“[Griffith’s] judgment is brought into serious question by his views on Title IX of our civil rights laws. This charter of fundamental fairness has been the engine for overcoming discrimination against women in education and the growth of women’s athletics,” said Senator Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, in a statement before the committee vote. “I urge all Senators to think about our daughters and granddaughters, the pride they felt when the US women’s soccer team began winning gold medals and World Cups, the joy they see in young women with the opportunity to play basketball and ski and compete and grow.”
Griffith has also been widely criticized for failing to obtain a license to practice law in Utah when he served as a lawyer for Brigham Young University. When questioned about this at last month at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he said that he never thought he needed to obtain a Utah law license. Griffith also said that he lost his DC law license because he did not pay bar association dues.
Griffith is one of 12 controversial circuit court picks renominated by President Bush in February, seven of whom had previously been filibustered. Griffith was first nominated in June 2004, but was never voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is considered the most powerful federal appeals court because it has jurisdiction over federal legislation, including Title IX. The Feminist Majority joined over 30 women's and civil rights groups last month in calling upon US senators to oppose Griffith’s nomination.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .