By Meg Jalsevac

WASHINGTON, November 27, 2006 ( – In an attempt at compromise with Democratic senators from Michigan, President Bush nominated Janet T. Neff as a judicial candidate for the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan in April of this year.  Senator Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas, is investigating Neff’s views on same-sex ‘marriage’ and her involvement in a 2002 homosexual commitment ceremony in Massachusetts before giving his ‘thumbs up’ to the nomination.

  The commitment ceremony happened before Massachusetts’s legalized gay ‘marriage’ in 2004.  

  Senator Brownback, nationally known for his opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’, has been careful to explain that Neff’s attendance alone would not disqualify her from the federal bench.   However, Brownback does want to investigate Neff’s involvement in the ceremony to ascertain that Massachusetts’ law at the time was not breached. 

  Brownback has also illustrated that Neff’s involvement in the ceremony has prompted questions about her view of the law.  He said, “…[W]hat I want to know is what does it do to her look at the law? What does she consider the law on same-sex marriage, on civil unions, and I’d want to consider that.”

  Neff has refused to answer Brownback’s questions about whether or not the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex ‘marriage’ or civil unions. 

  Federal nominees can refuse to answer questions posed to them in the confirmation process if they deem the questions too directly similar to material that they may rule on as a judge. 

  Neff insisted in an October 12 letter to Senator Brownback that she attended the ceremony only as a close family friend and that her participation would not affect her ability to remain fair and objective as a federal judge.  Neff’s letter said, “The ceremony, which was entirely private, took place in Massachusetts, where I had no authority to act in any official capacity and where, in any event, the ceremony had no legal effect.”  Neff said that she was asked to give a sermon at the ceremony.

  Brian Hart, a representative from Brownback’s office said, “She did not really address the judicial philosophy questions to his satisfaction.”  Brownback has not declared what he will do next but he says, “I’m still looking at the Neff situation, and I will in the future.”

  Brian Fahling of the America Family Association Center for Law & Policy is disappointed with President Bush’s nomination of Neff, considering her liberal reputation on several issues.  Conservatives like Fahling fear that liberal judges will use their bench position for even more judicial activism to push their agendas through the courts.  He says that America needs “judges who will simply declare what the law is, not judges who take it upon themselves to legislate and implement their own sense of what ought to be.”

  Neff must await Brownback’s approval before her nomination can be considered for approval by the full Senate body.