Were you reading the New York Times editorial page 5 years ago?

It seems likely that Jeffrey Sutton, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, will be confirmed by the Senate this week. But it is important to recognize why he was selected, and how he fits the Bush administration’s plan for an ideological takeover of the courts. Whichever way the Senate votes on him, it must insist that the administration start selecting judges who do not come with a far-right agenda.

There is no shortage of worthy judicial nominees. Federal courts are filled with district court judges, Republicans and Democrats, who have shown evenhandedness and professionalism, and many would make fine appeals court judges. State courts are overflowing with judges and lawyers known for their excellence, not their politics.

The Bush administration, however, has sought nominees whose main qualification is a commitment to far-right ideology. Mr. Sutton is the latest example. He is an activist for ”federalism,” a euphemism for a rigid states’-rights legal philosophy. Although federalism commands a narrow majority on the Supreme Court, advocates like Mr. Sutton are taking the law in a disturbing direction, depriving minorities, women and the disabled of important rights.

Mr. Sutton argued a landmark disability rights case in the Supreme Court. Patricia Garrett, a nurse at an Alabama state hospital, asserted that her employer fired her because she had breast cancer, violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. Mr. Sutton argued that the act did not protect state employees like Ms. Garrett. His states’-rights argument narrowly won over the court, and deprived millions of state workers of legal protection. He also invoked federalism to urge the court to strike down the Violence Against Women Act. It did so, 5 to 4, dismantling federal protection for sexual assault victims. Mr. Sutton has said that he was only doing his job, and that his concern was building a law practice, not choosing sides. But throughout his career, he has taken on major cases that advance the conservative agenda. He has left little doubt in his public statements that he supports these rulings.

At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Sutton faced protesters with guide dogs and wheelchairs, who were upset about his role in rolling back disability law. Naturally, they urged the Senate to reject him.

Pictures, please! See also.

The Eph connection? Jeff Sutton is class of 1983 and married to Margaret (Southward) Sutton ’84. He is now one of the highest ranking Ephs in the federal judiciary and certainly the most prominent conservative. Questions:

1) What other Ephs have similar positions?

2) Has Sutton issued an interesting opinions recently? We need someone to write about this.

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