The Feminist Majority joined several other women’s rights, civil rights and progressive groups at a press conference today to voice opposition to President Bush’s nomination of Michael McConnell to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the nomination of McConnell, a University of Utah law professor who has called both Roe v. Wade and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) unconstitutional and the right to an abortion “the greatest injustice of our time.”
The press conference was led by Nancy Zirkin, deputy director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who was joined by several other leaders in expressing her opposition to McConnell for his far-right views on everything from the separation of church and state to civil rights and women’s rights. ” McConnell may be the Religious Right’s dream judicial nominee, but he’s a nightmare for all Americans who treasure the Constitution,” said Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “McConnell’s record is one of relentless hostility for individual rights and trivialization of long-fought claims of justice.”
“Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee must continue to send President Bush the message that they will not approve judges that will take away women’s rights and roll the clock backwards according to a right-wing ideology. At this time of global turmoil, we don’t need extremists in the courts willing to make a Dred Scott decision in the area of women’s fundamental rights,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “McConnell has openly stated that he believes that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional. He signed a statement of pro-life principle and concern that calls for embryos to be considered persons under the law. He applauded a judge for not following the Freedom of Access To Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). Over and over again, he has used his right-wing ideology in place of the law to chip away at the basic human rights of women.”
McConnell is the third in a string of right-wing activists nominated to lifelong federal bench positions by President Bush. Both Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, were rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee for their propensity to trumpet their own right-wing ideologies over the law. If confirmed by the Senate, McConnell would become a lifetime appointee to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals – the court of last resort for Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.