Worrying about the right things

This is for my liberal readers who let their worry think for them.

By Ginger Rutland, The Sacramento Bee
May 8, 2005

I know Janice Rogers Brown, and she knows me, but we’re not friends. The associate justice of the California Supreme Court has never been to my house, and I’ve never been to hers. Ours is a wary relationship, one that befits a journalist of generally liberal leanings and a public official with a hard-right reputation fiercely targeted by the left.

I’ve been trying to get a fix on Brown since President Bush nominated her for the influential U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She won’t talk to the press. Friends, associates, even a former teacher, say the same things about her: She’s “brilliant,” “hardworking,” “stoic” and “kind.”

Her opponents on the left tell me she’s a fundamentalist Christian who will bring her religious values into the courtroom. But I’ve never been frightened by people of faith. Brown is Church of Christ. So is my mother-in-law, a good, gentle woman and lifelong Democrat who voted for John Kerry for president and opposed the war in Iraq because, as she told me when it started, “I’ve never understood how killin’ other folks’ children ever solved anything.”

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but desperate for deeper insight, I visited Brown’s church last Sunday, the Cordova Church of Christ. The judge wasn’t there, but her mother, Doris Holland, was. She was polite but understandably guarded. She told me that as a young girl Brown liked to read and had an imaginary friend; that was about it.

The congregation is integrated and friendly. Church members know Brown and her husband, jazz musician Dewey Parker, and like them. The church itself is conservative, allowing no instrumental music in its services, no robes, no bishops or hierarchy of any kind. The religious right may have taken up Brown’s cause in Congress, but the sermon at Cordova that day contained no political content.
Championed by conservatives, Brown terrifies my liberal friends. They worry she will end up on the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t.
I find myself rooting for Brown. I hope she survives the storm and eventually becomes the first black woman on the nation’s highest court.(Read the whole opinion)

Copyright © The Sacramento Bee

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