March 27, 2003
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation
Washington, DC - The Senate Judiciary Committee continues to rubber-stamp federal judicial nominees at an unprecedented pace. We expect that Priscilla Owen, a nominee to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, will be voted out of Committee today.
The Committee previously rejected Owen because of concerns about her judicial activism. In renominating Owen, President Bush showed a blatant disregard for the Committee's previous vote and their concerns about her record. In every opinion authored by Owen in abortion cases (and in fourteen out of sixteen Texas Supreme Court abortion cases heard by Owen), she has voted against abortion rights, often disregarding established precedent, rewriting legislative intent, speaking derogatorily about abortion providers and women who choose abortion, and otherwise displaying an extreme lack of impartiality and judicial restraint.
On Tuesday Carolyn Kuhl, a nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is scheduled to have her first Judiciary Committee hearing. While with the Reagan Justice Department, Kuhl argued in a brief to the Supreme Court that because the decision in Roe v. Wade was a source of constant litigation, the Court should simply overturn Roe. Kuhl also supported a "gag rule" on abortion information in federally funded family planning clinics. Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) objects to Kuhl's nomination and is appropriately using Senate rules to block her approval. If Kuhl's nomination moves forward, it will show not only a complete disregard for Senate precedent, but also a dangerous disregard for women's reproductive health.
Unfortunately, Owen and Kuhl are just the tip of the iceberg. The Committee has recently voted out John Roberts, Timothy Tymkovich and Miguel Estrada after abbreviated hearings. Roberts has repeatedly argued for the reversal of Roe and Tymkovich defended a Colorado law that denied funding for abortions for low-income women whose pregnancies were caused by rape or incest despite the fact that the statute clearly violated federal law. Estrada has refused to answer any questions about his judicial philosophy on a number of issues, including a woman's right to choose.
This is clearly a concerted effort and an organized campaign to pack the courts with right-wing ideologues and take away the freedoms Americans hold dear. NAF will continue to oppose any nominee who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and a woman's ability to make her own personal, private health care decisions.
Read NAF's reports on these nominees in our judicial nominations section.
The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.