On November 14, 2004, following 39 hours of contentious debate on several nominees, the Senate voted 42-53 (5 senators did not vote) against cloture which would have ended the filibuster against the nomination of Justice Priscilla R. Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. A vote of 60 is required to end debate. Justice Owen’s nomination expired at the end of the 108th Congress in December 2004; however, in January 2005, President Bush announced his intention to renominate her for consideration by the new Congress. This is the third time Owen has been nominated by President Bush. Her nomination was originally defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 5, 2002. President Bush nominated her again on January 7, 2003. A second hearing was held on March 13, 2003. Justice Owen’s responses at both hearings supported her record of hostility to reproductive rights, particularly the rights of young women seeking abortions. NCJW opposes Owen's confirmation.


Who is Justice Priscilla Owen?

  • Justice Owen was born in 1954 in Palacios, TX. She earned a BA at Baylor University in 1975 and JD at Baylor University School of Law in 1977.
  • From 1978-1984, she was an associate at the Houston law firm of Andrew, Kurth, Campbell & Jones (now known as Andrews & Kurth). She became a partner in the firm in 1985.
  • In 1994, Owen was elected as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court. She was re-elected in 2000.
  • Justice Owen is a member of the Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative legal group. The Federalist Society was formed to counter what it calls "orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society," which the group believes dominates law schools and the legal profession. Justice Owen is described by the Texas Lawyer as part of a bloc that "anchors the conservative end" of a very conservative state supreme court.
      Why does NCJW oppose Justice Owen's nomination?

Justice Owen has demonstrated her hostility to reproductive rights in several parental notification cases. Although Texas law provides that a minor may request judicial permission to bypass notification of her parent/s in seeking an abortion, Justice Owen wrote that in addition, judges ought to decide whether the abortion itself were in a minor's best interest. In six different cases, she voted to deny a teenaged girl permission to forego parental notification prior to seeking an abortion. In one such case, she objected strenuously to the majority's effort to expedite such a case, even though a timely decision meant the minor could undergo a simpler abortion procedure than if the decision were delayed. Her objections were cited by a fellow conservative justice Alberto Gonzales as "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." Gonzales is now White House Counsel to President George W. Bush.

Who else opposes Justice Owen?

Alliance for Justice
American Association of University Women
Americans for Democratic Action
Feminist Majority
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Abortion Federation
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Law Center
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
(list in progress)

Additional Information:

November 12, 2003
NCJW Denounces Senate Marathon Session on Judicial Nominations

January 7, 2003
NCJW Expresses Grave Disappointment Over Renomination of Pickering and Owen

September 5, 2002
NCJW Applauds Rejection of Priscilla Owen for Fifth Circuit Court

July 12, 2002
NCJW National President Urges Senator Leahy to Oppose Confirmation of Justice Priscilla R. Owen