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Friday, June 18, 2010

Chamber Attacks Judicial Nominee for Protecting Children

To quote Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”: REALLY? Chamber of Commerce, really?

For the first time in history, the Chamber has come out in opposition to a federal District Court nominee. Why? What calamity spurred this first-ever action? John “Jack” McConnell, the nominee for the bench in the District of Rhode Island, had taken a lead role representing the State of Rhode Island in a public nuisance lawsuit that sought to protect children from the toxic effects of lead-paint poisoning. That apparently is the worst thing a district court nominee has ever done to business interests.

The Chamber’s opposition was a result of McConnell’s work with the law firm Motley Rice, and more specifically his leading role in the case Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association. McConnell, in this case, as in many others, sought justice for the “victims of corporate malfeasance.”

Despite the aggressive corporate campaign against him from the Chamber and other business groups, McConnell was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday with an 11-6 vote, and now awaits, along with 25 other judicial nominees, a final vote from the full Senate.

The fact that McConnell was strongly opposed by business groups hostile to consumer protections and the rights of ordinary Americans is all the more reason to call for his swift confirmation by the Senate. Our courts have become bastions of corporate influence and we need to restore balance in the judiciary by appointing judges who don’t automatically favor the interests of the powerful and who treat all those who come before them fairly and impartially. Even kids poisoned by lead paint.