Boyle Court Nomination Spells Disaster for Disability Rights

WASHINGTON, DC, APRIL 29, 2005-- The Senate Judiciary Committee will soon vote on the confirmation of controversial judicial nominee Terrence Boyle to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. It has promised swift action on former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor's nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Both have long and disturbing records on disability rights and other important civil rights concerns.

Boyle has been nominated to a lifetime position on the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit -- deciding cases from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.

Boyle, considered a protege of former Senator Jesse Helms, is the third Bush Appeals Court nominee with a horrendous record on disability rights. Appointed to the federal bench by Reagan nearly 21 years ago, Boyle has decided between 11,000 and 12,000 district court cases, repeatedly promoting "states' rights" at the expense of individuals' federally protected civil rights, say critics. "The 4th Circuit -- the very court to which Terrence Boyle has been nominated -- has repeatedly reversed Boyle's decisions because of "plain error" and other fundamental legal mistakes." (Read the Bazelon Center's analysis of Judge Boyle's disability rights record.

Boyle has consistently ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act is, in effect, unconstitutional. "Many of his decisions are based on radical interpretations of disability rights laws, which are often completely inconsistent with basic disability law as interpreted by other courts and federal enforcement agencies," says the Bazelon Center. Among his many bizarre rulings, Boyle has said that Congress had no authority to make Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act applicable to the state and that it had no power to apply the ADA to state prisons. He has consistently ruled against disabled people's claims for reasonable accommodation. "Although framed in terms of addressing discrimination, the Act's operative remedial provisions demand not equal treatment, but special treatment...," he ruled in one case.

Boyle is the latest in a string of anti disability-rights judges Bush has nominated to the federal bench. He joins William Pryor, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and Jeffrey Sutton, whose nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati was confirmed in 2003, as anti-rights cronies who are being being elevated to positions that will significantly affect the civil rights of people with disabilities.

As Alabama Attorney General, William Pryor hired Jeffrey Sutton to argue against the ADA in the 2001 Garrett Supreme Court case. Pryor argued in Garrett that the protections of the ADA were "not needed" to remedy discrimination by states against people with disabilities. This decision prevents persons with disabilities from collecting monetary damages from state employers. Most significantly, it has resulted in fewer attorneys being willing to represent individuals in ADA cases against state employers.

Pryor said he was "proud" of his role in "protecting the hard-earned dollars of Alabama taxpayers when Congress imposes illegal mandates on our state."

On March 22,The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Sen. Edward Kennedy's challenge to President Bush's recess appointment of Pryor to a seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Pryor's nomination has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

No comments: