Judicial nominee grilled on antigay stand

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 19 2003 12:00 AM ET

A nominee for a seat on the 10th circuit U.S. court of appeals is facing opposition for his defense of a proposed Colorado constitutional amendment that would have limited gay rights. Democratic U.S. senators last week questioned whether Timothy Tymkovich went beyond his official duties as state solicitor general when he wrote a law journal article criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Amendment 2. In 1992, Colorado voters approved Amendment 2 to the state constitution, a voter initiative that would have struck down any laws or regulations designed to protect gays from discrimination.

Tymkovich argued that his position as the state's chief appellate lawyer required him to defend Amendment 2. But the Democratic senators are concerned because Tymkovich, in the article, appeared unwilling to accept the high court's ruling against the amendment. In the article Tymkovich and two of his colleagues on the Colorado attorney general's staff argued that the ruling illustrated "judicial histrionics," adding that it was "merely another example of ad hoc, activist jurisprudence without constitutional mooring." At the Senate hearing last week, the 46-year-old lawyer and Republican activist said he fully accepted the court's 6-3 ruling in the case and vowed to follow the high court's other decisions without regard to his personal opinions. A judge, he said, "has a solemn obligation to leave his personal views behind."

Tymkovich, backed by U.S. senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, both Colorado Republicans, said the hearing went as expected but that he wouldn't comment on his chances. Allard spokesman Dick Wadhams said that none of the questions was unexpected and that Allard remains convinced Tymkovich will be confirmed.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, and the Alliance for Justice, a liberal group that monitors judicial appointments, said they are lobbying against Tymkovich's confirmation. None of the Democrats who questioned Tymkovich--senators Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and Charles Schumer of New York--said they would oppose his appointment. Most congratulated him on his nomination, and Kennedy even noted that some of his friends have urged him to support Tymkovich.

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