Priscilla Owen, an anti-women’s rights and civil rights nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was confirmed today in the Senate by a 56-43 vote. Though Democrats had enough votes to launch a filibuster against Owen, she was given a simple majority vote under a deal struck by 14 Senators to stop the so-called “nuclear option,” at least for now. The deal allowed a simple majority vote on Owen and two other anti-women’s and civil rights judicial nominees, while giving Democrats the opportunity to filibuster two other extreme right-wing nominees. The deal will also allow filibusters to be used against judicial nominees only in “extraordinary circumstances.”
Owen has voted against a woman’s right to choose in every abortion-related opinion. Owen is often referred to as an Enron or Halliburton appointee who, as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, consistently ruled for business and against consumers and women’s rights, and tried to weaken discrimination protections in employment.
“Will saving women’s lives, women’s rights, and civil rights ever be considered such an extraordinary circumstance?,” asked Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “If the record of Priscilla Owen and two other anti-women’s rights, anti-civil rights nominees who will not be filibustered under the deal are to be the standard, then these rights are in grave peril.”