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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 17, 2002
12:48 PM
CONTACT:  National Women's Law Center
Lela Shepard or Margot Friedman, 202-588-5180
NWLC Opposes Justice Priscilla Owen Nomination, Urges Senate to Reject Nominee
 
WASHINGTON - July 17 - The National Women's Law Center today announced its opposition to the confirmation of Justice Priscilla Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and urged the Senate to reject her nomination. Justice Owen, who currently serves on the Texas Supreme Court, has a troubling record on issues of concern to women, particularly in the area of reproductive rights. Owen has demonstrated hostility toward reproductive rights and an unwillingness to follow the law in this area. In addition, Owen's record on sex discrimination and other legal issues of importance to women displays a staunch conservatism that is well outside the mainstream. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the nomination on July 23.

"Justice Owen's refusal to follow the law in the context of reproductive rights, combined with other troubling aspects of her rulings, convinces us that she does not belong on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals," said Marcia D. Greenberger, NWLC co-president.

No judicial nominee enjoys a presumption in favor of confirmation. As numerous legal scholars have shown, it is the nominee who carries the burden of convincing the Senate that he or she should be confirmed, and any doubts should be resolved against confirmation. Nominees for the federal bench must satisfy the Senate that they meet all of the criteria for confirmation. If they do not, the American people should not be asked to bear the risk of entrusting the nominee with the reigns of judicial power.

If confirmed to the Fifth Circuit, Justice Owen would be entitled to lifetime tenure on the Court of Appeals. Because this position would afford her enormous power over issues of fundamental importance to all Americans, Owen and her record must be evaluated to determine her views on and approaches to the law. In addition to meeting the requirements of honesty, integrity, character, temperament and intellect, to be confirmed to a federal judgeship a nominee should be required to demonstrate a commitment to protecting the rights of ordinary American citizens and the progress that has been made on civil rights and individual liberties, including those core constitutional principles that protect women's legal rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the right to privacy (which includes contraception and abortion) as well as statutory provisions that protect women's legal rights in such fundamental areas as education, employment, and health and safety.

As an organization dedicated to advancing and protecting women's legal rights, the Center has focused its review of Justice Owen's record on the fundamental constitutional right to privacy, including the right to terminate a pregnancy and related aspects of women's reproductive rights and health. The Center also examined her record on protections against sex discrimination and other legal issues of importance to women. Owen's record raises serious questions about her commitment to protecting women's fundamental rights. To view NWLC's report detailing Justice Owen's record, visit http://www.nwlc.org

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