Justice Janice Rogers Brown could be the first black woman to sit on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. A court which is often called second in importance to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justice Brown is an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. She has a strong personal story of overcoming obstacles. She was born in Alabama, the daughter of sharecroppers, and attended segregated schools. She was a single mother when she put herself through college in California.
Justice Brown is known for decisions containing humor. Brown began her dissent in one case, Nike v. Kasky: “In 1942, the United States Supreme Court, like a wizard trained at Hogwarts, waved its wand and plucked the commercial doctrine out of thin air.” She compared the majority's decision in that case to the discovery of cold fusion because it “promises much, but solves nothing.” She claimed that the majority's test for commercial speech proves a maxim by H.L. Mencken: “every human problem” has a “solution” that is "neat, plausible, and wrong.” And, to tie into her opening remark, Brown concluded that the Supreme Court should revise its commercial speech jurisprudence because "Merlin and Gandalf are busy."
Battle lines are being drawn over Justice Brown's nomination. The NY Times reports that her nomination has received a sharply critical review from the Congressional Black Caucus and a lukewarm one from the American Bar Association.