Janice Rogers Brown, 56, was confirmed last month to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. For nine years before that, she was a California Supreme Court justice.

Brown was born in Greenville, Ala., and educated at California State University at Sacramento and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. She is a self-described conservative who as a young single mother once called herself so leftist as to be almost Maoist. She was legal affairs secretary for California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) before joining the California Court of Appeals in 1994.

As a judge, she has written sharp opinions that opposed affirmative action, that supported a state law requiring girls younger than 18 to notify their parents before getting an abortion, and that advocated using stun guns in a courtroom to control an unruly defendant. She has strongly supported property rights and describes herself as someone who looks to the intent of the framers of the Constitution when making decisions. Some have criticized her for writing dissents and opinions that personally attack other justices.

Brown has attracted as much attention for her speeches as for her legal decisions. In recent years, she has described New Deal legal precedents as "the triumph of our socialist revolution," and two months ago, she told a Connecticut group of Catholic legal professionals that "there seems to have been no time since the Civil War that this country was so bitterly divided." She also said that "these are perilous times for people of faith" and that there's a social cost to pay "if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."

Brown grew up in the segregated South, where her family refused to enter restaurants or theaters with separate entrances for black customers. Before moving to Washington, she lived in a gated community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

-- Marc Kaufman