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Activists Taking Action Against Nuclear Option

Washington, DC Concerned citizens around the country who are part of Planned Parenthood's national Action Network have generated almost 115,000 letters, calls and petition signatures opposing the so-called "nuclear option." This is in response to a move by the Senate Republican leadership that will attempt to change long-standing voting rules on judicial nominations. The change which may be imminent flies in the face of Senate tradition and would mean that fewer votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster of a judicial nominee, from 60 to a simple majority of 51 votes. The result would be more extremists with lifetime appointments to the bench.

"This alarming move has generated reaction across the country from people who are not afraid to call it what it is: an unprecedented power grab. Americans know better, and won't stand for it," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America Interim President Karen Pearl. "Federal judges are appointed for life and often stay on the bench for a generation or more. Their judicial decisions influence millions of lives, and their appointments deserve thoughtful and intelligent decision and debate."

Since President Bush took office, the Senate has approved 208 federal district and circuit court nominees. Only 10 have been rejected fewer than five percent. In fact, last year there were fewer vacancies on the federal courts of appeals than at any other time in the past 15 years. Republicans in the Senate have also used the filibuster and other procedural tools to block judicial nominees that had been selected by President Clinton.

"We are proud that our activists are telling their senators loud and clear that they oppose this attempt to silence minority voices," added Pearl. "Supporters of the 'nuclear option' are only proving that they prefer intimidation and power politics to rational and honest debate, and America will suffer as a result."

Justices Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown are far out of the mainstream on core issues affecting women. During her tenure on the Texas Supreme Court, Justice Owen pushed to create additional hurdles for minors seeking abortion that were not found in the original statute. She showed disregard for young women who feel that they cannot involve their parents in their decision to have an abortion for various reasons, including the threat of possible abuse.

While serving on the California Supreme Court, Justice Brown dissented from a ruling striking down parental consent regulations that violated privacy protections guaranteed by the state constitution. Moreover, Brown was the only justice on the California Supreme Court who voted to strike down a California law that requires employers to provide prescription coverage in their employee benefit plans to cover prescription contraceptives for women. Brown said the state's interest in protecting the rights of women to receive contraceptive equity was not sufficiently compelling because "a modest 10 percent" don't receive such coverage, and she likened the contraceptive equity bill to "the state using a howitzer to smite a gnat." The California Judicial Nominations Evaluating Commission twice rated Brown not qualified to serve as a justice on the state supreme court.

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Contacts

Daedre Levine (212) 261-4549

Published: 05.20.05 | Updated: 05.20.05

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