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JULY 19, 2002
2:42 PM
CONTACT:  National Organization for Women
202-628-8669 Rebecca Farmer, x 116

NOW Opposes Nomination of Priscilla Owen To Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
WASHINGTON  - July 19 - "Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen's penchant for judicial activism may have earned her Bush's nomination to the Fifth Circuit, but it should not win her a seat on the Court of Appeals," said National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy. "NOW and other supporters of a fair court system are calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Owen's nomination."

"We've seen Judge Owen use the courtroom to further her narrow beliefs and ideals, going so far as to virtually re-write laws rather than fairly interpret them. The last thing the Fifth Circuit needs is more judges who can't leave their political ideologies at the door," Gandy said. "For example, Owen supports 'stricter interpretation' of the Texas law requiring girls younger than 18 to inform their parents before obtaining an abortion. In every case that came before the Texas Supreme Court last spring in which a young woman sought a bypass of the parental notification law, Judge Owen voted against granting the bypass."

"Even White House Counsel and former fellow Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales referred to Owen's extremist position in a reproductive rights case as an 'unconscionable act of judicial activism,'" Gandy said. "Owen has been described as being on the 'far right wing' of the Texas Court, even more to the right than Bush's own appointees to that court when he was governor. A judge whose political zealotry prevents fair application of the law has no place on the federal bench."

"In addition to disdaining women's rights, Owen has demonstrated a commitment to money over morality," Gandy said. "In 1994, Enron endorsed her and contributed $8,600 to her successful Texas Supreme court bid. Two years later, she wrote the majority opinion that reduced Enron's school taxes by $15 million, and according to Texans for Public Justice that court ruled in Enron's favor in five out of six cases. Now a household name for corruption, Enron contributed more money to Owen than any other corporation."

"Women's rights supporters across the country will be contacting the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee via phone, fax and e-mail to demand they reject the Priscilla Owen nomination," Gandy said. "NOW is keeping tabs on how every Senator votes on judicial nominations--and their commitment to women's rights will surely be reflected in women's votes."


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