The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on President Bush’s re-nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Owen, who was defeated in committee last session because of her poor record on women’s and civil rights, was re-nominated by the Bush administration as part of an ongoing campaign to stack the nation’s courts with far-right judges.
Currently a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, Owen has been called too ideologically far to the right by even her conservative colleagues – White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who served with Owen on the Texas court, characterized one of her opinions on judicial bypass for minors seeking abortions as “an unconscionable act of judicial activism.” Owen has consistently voted against reproductive rights for women – in every abortion-related opinion authored by Owen she has voted against abortion rights. In one ruling, Owen cited religious considerations as a condition for a teenager seeking judicial bypass of a parental consent for an abortion. A review of Justice Owen’s opinions also shows a consistent hostility toward employee rights and discrimination protections, public information rights, environmental protection and consumer and citizen rights.
As a member of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, the Feminist Majority joins a large coalition of women’s rights, civil rights, worker’s rights, environmental rights, disability rights, gay and lesbian rights, Latino and other progressive organizations in opposing the re-nomination of Owen.