September 28, 2004
HRC Foundation Releases Publication on Importance of the Judiciary
'The makeup of the court is one of the most important outcomes of elections,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.
WASHINGTON - Our nation's courts play a pivotal role in the fight for equality, according to "Justice for All," a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Part of an educational campaign funded by the Open Society Institute Network of the Soros Foundation's Network, the publication clearly outlines the unique relationships between gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied voters, legislators and judges.
"The makeup of the court is one of the most important outcomes of elections," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "GLBT Americans and our allies too frequently overlook the effect judges have on our lives. And we forget that when we're in that voting booth, we're picking not only a president, but the person who puts judges on the bench for a lifetime. This report is designed to make that connection."
"We are proud to support this effort by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to shed light on the crucial role played by fair and impartial judges in our democratic system," said John Kowal of the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation's Network, which funded the report as part of its goal to inform diverse groups about the importance of a fair and balanced judiciary. "This report is an essential educational tool for the GLBT community."
The publication highlights how courts are critical to the GLBT community, the role of the courts and so-called "judicial activism," the selection of judges and how the readers can help protect the courts and their rights.
For example, did you know?
Until the Supreme Court invalidated so-called sodomy laws in 2003, those laws were used to justify taking children away from GLBT parents and excluding GLBT people from professions such as teaching.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the justice who wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, was nominated by President Reagan in 1987. But Reagan's first pick was Robert Bork, an outspoken opponent of GLBT equality. Bork was rejected by senators who demanded a more fair-minded justice.
Judge William Pryor, who was recently appointed to the 11th Circuit Court in a move that evaded Senate confirmation, sits on the bench that recently upheld Florida's anti-gay adoption ban by a one-vote margin.
"Our vote for president and our senators are votes for the judges who will safeguard or ignore our community's fundamental rights. Yet too many GLBT Americans don't take the opportunity to make their own decision to vote, which amounts to leaving this crucial choice in the hands of our opponents," said HRC Senior Counsel Lara Schwartz, author of the report.
The publication will be publicly released this evening at a panel in Washington, D.C., at HRC's headquarters. Jacques will introduce panel members Paul Smith, the attorney who argued the ground-breaking case Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down discriminatory sodomy laws nationwide Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch, authors of Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court and HRC's Schwartz, who will moderate the panel. Panelists will delve into the publication's contents and its relevance to current events.
A web movie breaking down the complex issue with references to pop culture was also released in conjunction with the report.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.