November 18, 2002
Please call and email your U.S. senators to urge them to vote no on the confirmation of District Court Judge Dennis Shedd to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A full Senate confirmation vote is expected either Tuesday, Nov. 19, or Wednesday, Nov. 20. Judge Shedd's decisions have consistently demonstrated a troublesome disdain for women's, civil and employment rights and civil liberties, confirming that he is a right-wing extremist who will not shy away from substituting his political views for the law, thus rendering him unqualified to sit on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In case after case, Judge Shedd ? who currently sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina ? has usurped the jury's role as fact finder in order to summarily dismiss women's claims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Indeed his sexual harassment decisions leave us wondering whether he is unable to grasp the basics of employment discrimination law or is simply astoundingly insensitive.
Judge Shedd dismissed one woman's lawsuit despite evidence that a supervisor sexually harassed her on a daily basis, making dirty jokes, asking her whether she had been up all night "getting some," and commenting about her breasts and buttocks as well as about the anatomy of the women the supervisor dated. In dismissing the case, Shedd reasoned that the plaintiff had resigned because she "quit enjoying her job."
In another case, Judge Shedd grudgingly conceded the woman had been sexually harassed, but dismissed her additional claims of outrageous behavior ? even though the woman's supervisor repeatedly asked her to sleep with him, told her he had a "hard-on" every time he saw her, spread rumors he was having an affair with her, telephoned her at home, and even went to her home, claiming he could visit her any time he wanted.
In addition to coddling sexual harassers, Judge Shedd is only too eager to substitute his political agenda for the decisions of the United States Congress, striking down laws he does not like as beyond congressional authority. For example, to stop anti-abortion terrorists and other criminals from using license plate numbers to obtain personal information about their victims in order to stalk, attack or kill them, Congress passed the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The Act prohibits states from divulging such personal information except in limited circumstances. Judge Shedd struck down this law as a violation of states' rights.
Shedd also used states' rights ideology to dismiss an employment discrimination claim brought under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He ruled that applying the FMLA to state employees would violate state sovereignty under the Eleventh Amendment.
In keeping with his zeal to elevate the sovereignty of state agencies over individuals' rights to privacy and equal opportunity, Shedd is complacent about states' gross violations of criminal defendants' constitutional rights and prisoners' basic human rights. He gave a mild slap on the wrist (a $250 fine) to a deputy sheriff who secretly videotaped a capital defendant's conversation with his lawyer. Shedd said he did not believe such eavesdropping even violated the defendant's civil rights. In another case, Shedd dismissed the complaint of a pre-trial detainee who was forced to sit naked in his cell without bedding or mattress for 48 hours as punishment for wearing his prison uniform after lights out, even though the detainee was new and claimed he was not aware of the rule.
Again, please call and email your U.S. senators to urge them to vote no on the confirmation of District Court Judge Dennis Shedd to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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