Although she has not been as directly involved in other civil rights issues as she was during the Reagan Administration, two articles concerning employment discrimination that Kuhl authored when she was in private practice raise serious concerns about her philosophy toward protecting employees from non-merit based employment decisions as well as remedying discrimination. In one, Kuhl made clear that she is opposed to affirmative action, which she called “a divisive societal manipulation.” (Ashkenazy v. Liu, No. BC 149503).
PFAW Press Release: Alberto Gonzales v. Priscilla Owen; Alberto Gonzales’ criticism of Priscilla Owen on the Texas Supreme Court bench covers her right-wing judicial activism on a wide range of issues
The Senate is debating the nomination of Priscilla Owen to a federal appeals court seat and Senate Republicans may try to force a vote this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected her last year, and her re-nomination by President Bush is unprecedented. Read PFAW’s report about why the committee was right to reject this judicial activist then, and why the Senate should do so again.
In an effort to rehabilitate Owen’s failed nomination, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch held another hearing for Justice Owen on March 13, 2003, even though he acknowledged that she had received a full and fair hearing last July. At the March 13 hearing, Senator Hatch, several other Republican senators, and Justice Owen tried to explain away three serious concerns that helped lead to the rejection of her nomination: the criticism by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other Bush appointees to the Texas Supreme Court of a number of Owen’s frequent dissents and attempts at judicial activism; Owen’s judicial activism in attempting to impose additional barriers on the exercise of the right to reproductive choice; and Owen’s frequent dissents and efforts at judicial activism in favor of corporate and other interests in cases in which the majority had protected the rights of consumers and other citizens. As with her first hearing last year, however, the March 13 hearing failed to resolve, and instead reinforced, these serious concerns.
Much of Owen’s second hearing centered around an attempt by Senator Hatch and several of his Republican colleagues to dispel the conclusion evident from Justice Owen’s record that she is a right-wing judicial activist, a conclusion that played a significant role in the Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Owen’s confirmation.
In her tenure on the Texas Supreme Court, Owen has written or joined a number of dissents that would have effectively rewritten or disregarded the law, usually to the detriment of ordinary citizens, including in cases dealing with discrimination and employee rights, environmental issues and public information rights, and consumer and citizen rights. Owen was questioned about her disturbing record on these issues at her first hearing, but her testimony did not dispel the concerns that her record had raised.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, frustrated that Democratic senators are resisting his effort to push President Bush’s appeals court nominees onto the bench with minimal scrutiny, is increasingly abusing the power of his chairmanship to flagrantly violate or unilaterally change longstanding committee rules and bipartisan agreements that govern the Judiciary Committee’s deliberative process