Republican lawmaker is considering whether to stop
blocking a judicial nominee over concerns that her
appearance at a lesbian commitment ceremony betrayed
her legal views on same-sex marriage. Notoriously
antigay U.S. senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a
potential 2008 presidential candidate, said Michigan court
of appeals judge Janet T. Neff should not be
disqualified automatically for having attended the
ceremony. But Brownback made clear it raises doubts in his
''But what I want
to know is, What does it do to her look at the law?
What does she consider the law on same-sex marriage, on
civil unions, and I'd want to consider that,''
Brownback said Sunday during an appearance on ABC's
nominated Neff, who has a liberal reputation, to be a U.S.
district court judge as part of a compromise struck with
Democrats. Neff's nomination is pending before the
full Senate; Brownback has stalled it because of her
attendance at the 2002 ceremony in Massachusetts.
''I'm still looking at the Neff situation, and I will in
the future,'' Brownback said.
Neff has said she
attended as a friend of one of the two women, a
longtime neighbor. Neff has declined to answer Brownback's
queries on whether the Constitution guarantees a right
to same-sex marriage or civil unions, saying it would
be improper to address questions that might come
before her as a federal judge.
same-sex marriage a developing area of the law that
should not be left to the judiciary. ''To me, these
issues should be decided by the legislative bodies,
not by the judicial bodies, and it seems to me this
may indicate some view of hers on the legal issue. And
that's what I'm concerned about here, is her view of the
legal issue involving same-sex marriage,'' Brownback
senator Dick Durbin of Illinois urged taking a step back,
away from ''the political agenda,'' in considering
judicial appointees. ''You know, these are important
lifetime appointments. These men and women who serve
on the bench, we really trust their judgment and their
wisdom, and giving these political litmus tests I
don't think is in the best interest of justice in
America,'' said Durbin, who will be the number 2 Democrat
in the Senate.
In an October 12
letter to Brownback, Neff said a minister presided over
the ceremony and she insisted her attendance would not
affect her ability to act fairly as a federal judge.
''The ceremony, which was entirely private, took place
in Massachusetts, where I had no authority to act in
any official capacity and where, in any event, the ceremony
had no legal effect,'' Neff wrote. (AP)
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