Ad Questions Senator Kennedy on 'Obstruction of Justice'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - A group that monitors corruption in the judicial confirmation process has launched an advertising campaign questioning whether Sen. Ted Kennedy obstructed justice in two major affirmative action cases.

The ads center on strategy memos written by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As previously reported, Republican staffers found the memos on a shared government computer -- read them -- and then expressed alarm over their content.

The Center for Individual Freedom says its ad campaign focuses on an April 17, 2002, memo to Sen. Kennedy from one of his aides.

In that memo, the aide told Kennedy that Elaine Jones -- president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund -- wanted Kennedy to delay Senate action on all of President Bush's nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit -- until after the University of Michigan affirmative action cases were decided by that same court.

At the time the memo was written, Jones was representing clients in the case, which challenged the constitutionality of the University's undergraduate affirmative-action admissions policy.

"Senator Kennedy has some explaining to do," said Jeffrey Mazzella, the Center's executive director.

"It's clear to us that Jones transgressed ethical boundaries when she attempted to stack the judicial deck in her favor. It is also clear that two of Senator Kennedy's aides violated those same ethical boundaries when they made the recommendation to postpone Senate action on at least one nominee to the 6th Circuit, despite acknowledging the impropriety of doing so.

"What is not clear is what, if any, actions Senator Kennedy took to ensure that no new judges were confirmed to the 6th Circuit before the cases were decided," Mazzella said.

"Senator Kennedy has violated the public's trust in his role as a U.S. Senator," said Mazzella. "Yet, despite ample opportunities to clear his name of any wrongdoing, Senator Kennedy continues to hide behind a wall of silence."

The first round of ads is running this week in The Washington Times and The Hill. The ad tells Sen. Kennedy he has some explaining to do.

"It's Time for You to Come Clean on MEMOGATE," the ad says, then lays out the facts in the case, as follows:

FACT: On April 17, 2002, Elaine Jones of the NAACP asked you to delay all judicial confirmations to the 6th Circuit until the University of Michigan affirmative action case was decided by that court. Jones was a lawyer in the case.

FACT: Jones thought she could win her case as long as no new judges were confirmed to the 6th Circuit.

FACT: Two of your aides, in a memo, recommended you postpone at least one confirmation to the 6th Circuit, despite telling you it was wrong to delay confirmations to affect the outcome of a pending case.

FACT: NO 6th Circuit judicial nominees were confirmed by the Senate...until after the Court had ruled in favor of Jones' position.

FACT: You continue to refuse to answer any questions on this subject, despite ample opportunities to restore the public's trust in your role as a U.S. Senator.

Senator Kennedy, is it FACT that you OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE in the most important Civil Rights case in more than 25 years?"

"We have heard from thousands of individuals from across the country demanding to know if Senator Kennedy used his power to 'obstruct justice' in the most important civil rights cases in more than 25 years," said CFIF's Mazzella.

"It's time for Senator Kennedy to come clean. He owes that much to his constituents and the American people."

The Center for Individual Freedom describes itself as a nonpartisan constitutional advocacy group that fights to protect individual freedom and rights in the legal, legislative and educational arenas.

E-mail a news tip to David Thibault.