The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing this Wednesday on the nomination of Claude Allen to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Allen’s nomination is opposed by a coalition of women’s, civil, and human rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority, based on “Allen’s lack of experience, his extreme conservative ideology, his lack of respect for the law, and, not insignificantly, his nomination to a seat reserved for a member of the Maryland bar, which he is not.”
Allen, who currently serves as Bush’s Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, has only eight years of practical legal experience, four less than the ABA standard. Allen’s record includes serving as a Director of the Board of Peacemaker Ministries, an organization that condemns litigation as a destructive way of dealing with conflict. The organization derides broad categories of litigation, including divorce and suits by children who have been sexually abused by clergy members.
Allen is a staunch opponent of abortion rights. One reason that he has given is his belief that abortion is causing a genocide of the black population. Allen helped draft Virginia’s parental notification law and supported a law imposing a 24 hour waiting period and requiring biased information be given to women seeking abortions. As Virginia’s top health administrator, Allen delayed enrolling low-income children into the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) because of his opposition to abortion and because he viewed the program as an expansion of welfare. In his current position at HHS, Allen supported expanding the federal CHIP program to cover fetuses and backed the Bush Administration’s decision to remove information about condom effectiveness and teen pregnancy prevention from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.