Amid what Republicans have coined “Judges Week” to declare their intent to push through a number of Bush’s far-right judicial nominees, Democrats yesterday began a filibuster of the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said, “Her record is so egregious that we have no choice but to filibuster,” Fox News reported. The Washington Times said today that Republicans filed a cloture motion last night for a vote on Thursday morning in an attempt to end the filibuster.
Priscilla Owen, currently a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, was rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee last year for her consistently anti-women’s rights and anti-workers’ rights rulings. In every abortion-related opinion on the Texas Supreme court, Owen has voted against abortion rights. Furthermore, Democrats are concerned that she interjects her own personal beliefs in her rulings instead of following the letter of the law, the Washington Post stated. In one ruling, Owen asserted that teenagers must account for religious considerations as a condition for judicial bypass of parental consent for abortion.
As a counter proposal, Democrats called for the immediate confirmation of Judge Edward Prado, a nominee for the same appellate court as Owen, the New York Times reported. Demonstrating their resolve to push through right-wing nominees Republicans refused to schedule a vote on Prado. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Jeffrey Sutton — who was opposed by 400 disability, civil rights, women’s rights, environmental, labor and other groups — to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 52-41. A filibuster could have been sustained with 41 votes. Additionally, Republicans plan to vote in committee this week on the nomination of James Leon Holmes, former president of Arkansas Right to Life, to the federal district court in Little Rock.
Some GOP officials also revealed to the Post that the White House is strategically nominating conservative Republican women, Hispanics, and African Americans for federal judgeships to make Democrats look bad if they oppose them. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal encouraged Democrats to stand firm, saying, “Senate Democrats must stand up and fight as they have been doing with Miguel Estrada. They must stop Bush’s court stacking if we are to save 40 years of women’s rights and civil rights progress.”
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