Neas Decries Owen Confirmation

Texas Judge favors Corporate Interests, imposes Right-Wing Ideology

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas Wednesday expressed deep disappointment at the confirmation of Texan Priscilla Owen to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in the first confirmation vote since a compromise was reached to avoid the detonation of the “nuclear option” on filibustering judicial nominees in the Senate.

“We have opposed the confirmation of Priscilla Owen from the beginning, and in fact, the Judiciary Committee rejected her nomination in 2002. Her record demonstrates she is willing to rewrite the law from the bench to the benefit of the powerful, and the detriment of the powerless,” said Neas. “President Bush’s own Attorney General, who served with her on the Texas Supreme Court, criticized her more than ten times from the bench.”

Neas explained that among those instances was a case in which Gonzales labeled Owen’s position as “an unconscionable act of judicial activism,” albeit he has tried to back away from that opinion in recent days.

Neas noted that Owen is the first of three controversial judicial nominees whose votes will be scheduled under the outlines of the compromise. He urged the Senate to defeat the remaining two, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, and then to work with the White House to find moderate candidates for the federal courts who can attract bipartisan support.

“On the merits, both Brown and Pryor deserve rejection. Both are willing to impose their ultra-conservative views from the bench, and roll back years of progress on issues of social justice,” he said. “The compromise shows that its is time for the White House to work with the Senate to find qualified, capable nominees who will not owe their allegiance to any political party or ideology, but instead uphold the ideals of a fair and independent judiciary.”

“Such consultation and consensus will be even more critical as we look forward to the possibility of one, two or even three vacancies on the Supreme Court during the remainder of President Bush’s term. We call on the President to work with the Senate to find and approve candidates whom the American people can agree on,” he added.

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