Dispatch: U.S. Senate finally to hear court nominees from Ohio

As of this morning, former Ohio Solicitor Jeffrey S. Sutton and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah L. Cook have waited precisely 630 days.

Nearly two years since President Bush nominated them to the federal appeals bench, Sutton and Cook finally will have the opportunity today to answer their critics in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sutton and Cook are just part of a struggle between Bush and the Senate Democrats for control of the judiciary. When Democrats controlled the Senate for much of the past two years, they approved just 17 of Bush's 32 nominees to the appeals bench.

Cook is widely regarded as the most conservative Ohio justice. Since she joined the high court in 1995, she has written more than 300 dissents, more than any other justice. She dissented last December when the justices for the fourth time struck down the state's school-financing system as unconstitutional.

Click here to read the entire story in the Columbus Dispatch (subscription site - paid access only). An archived version of the story follows.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Jack Torry
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

WASHINGTON -- As of this morning, former Ohio Solicitor Jeffrey S. Sutton and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah L. Cook have waited precisely 630 days.
Nearly two years since President Bush nominated them to the federal appeals bench, Sutton and Cook finally will have the opportunity today to answer their critics in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Their appearance could provoke one of the most contentious confirmation battles of the year. For much of the past two years, Senate Democrats declined to hold a hearing on Sutton and Cook. But with Republicans seizing control of the Senate last November, legal analysts believe they both have a fairly good chance of winning confirmation and taking their seats on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

"These are two highly qualified individuals,'' said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, a committee member. "Both are very well-respected in the legal profession. At the end of the day, I believe both will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.''

DeWine will introduce Cook and Sutton. In addition, Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who is chairman of the committee, said he would ask DeWine to chair much of the hearing.

Opponents of the two Ohio lawyers are vowing an aggressive effort to defeat them.

"I'm not prepared to predict definite defeat or definite victory on any of them, except to say those two have generated a lot of concern,'' said Elliot M. Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way.

Louis Bograd, legal director of the Alliance for Justice in Washington, said, "This will be one of the first tests of the Democrats' resolve to stand up to President Bush's attempt to pack the courts with right-wing ideologues.''

More than 400 disability organizations are planning protests in Washington and Columbus today and Thursday to oppose Sutton's nomination. Jim Ward, president of the National Coalition for Disability Rights, said it is "deeply troubling'' that the U.S. Senate would consider for a lifetime seat on the federal court "an attorney who has spent most of his career rolling back disability and civil-rights protections.''

Sutton and Cook are just part of a struggle between Bush and the Senate Democrats for control of the judiciary. When Democrats controlled the Senate for much of the past two years, they approved just 17 of Bush's 32 nominees to the appeals bench.

Disability organizations argue that Sutton would narrow the scope of the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush. They point to Sutton's view that the Constitution provides the states with broad powers to direct their affairs while simultaneously restricting the authority of the federal government.

"I have litigated against Jeff, and I think he's a good person,'' Mincberg said. "But his very extreme legal theories are what the main concern is about him. It's a very radical, very far-right philosophy with respect to the authority of Congress to protect civil rights and the environment.''

Cook is widely regarded as the most conservative Ohio justice. Since she joined the high court in 1995, she has written more than 300 dissents, more than any other justice. She dissented last December when the justices for the fourth time struck down the state's school-financing system as unconstitutional.

Both Sutton and Cook have powerful advocates, none more unusual than John Edgell, a former top aide to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Cleveland. Edgell recalled attending summer camps with Sutton when they were teen-agers and volunteered to help his nomination by talking to senior Senate Democratic staff members.

Those writing on Sutton's behalf include former Republican Sen. Bob Dole; 27 state attorneys general; Benson Wolman, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio; Francis X. Beytagh, a Democrat and former dean of the law school at Ohio State; and Franklin County Treasurer Richard Cordray, a Democrat and former state solicitor.

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.

Mission

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.

JOIN