Michael W. McConnell’s nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote on November 14, 2002. On November 15, 2002, the full Senate confirmed McConnell without debate or recorded vote.

Professor McConnell is a committed foe of abortion rights and favors weakening the separation between religion and state.

Who is Michael W. McConnell?

  • Michael W. McConnell was born in 1955 in Louisville, KY, and received a BA from Michigan State University in 1976. He earned a JD at the University of Chicago College of Law in 1979.
  • McConnell clerked for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1979-1980, and for US Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan from 1980-1981.
  • From 1981-1983, he served as assistant general counsel at the US Office of Management and Budget and was assistant to the Solicitor General in the US Department of Justice from 1983-1985. Since 1989, McConnell has been a special consultant to the law firm of Mayer, Brown, and Pratt.
  • McConnell began his academic career in 1985 at the University of Chicago Law School as an assistant professor, rising to become Wm. Graham Professor of Law in 1992. In 1997, he joined the faculty of the University of Utah College of Law as Presidential Professor, where he still serves. In 1999, he was a visiting professor of law at Harvard University Law School.
      Why does NCJW oppose Michael McConnell's nomination?

  • Michael W. McConnell has forthrightly opposed abortion rights, criticized the Rehnquist Supreme Court as "center left," and disparaged the separation of religion and state as now delineated by the federal courts.
  • In various articles and other writing, McConnell has called the reasoning behind Roe v. Wade "an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously" and "without any persuasive basis in constitutional text or logic." He has pronounced the decision "of questionable legitimacy and even more questionable prudence."
  • In 1996, McConnell signed a "Statement of Pro-Life Principle and Concern" supporting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Roe and establish that "the right to life protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments extends to the unborn child."
  • McConnell would support legislation declaring an embryo a legal person from the moment of implantation.
  • McConnell testified against the "Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)" and in favor of the right to protest against abortion "forcefully and face-to-face." His position on FACE has been rejected by every federal appeals court that has considered it. Nevertheless, he applauded a federal judge who acquitted two protestors charged with violating FACE, stating that the protestors acted without "bad purpose." Concluding that "I am quite sure it was not lawful," he nevertheless wrote, "…one cannot help admiring the judge's act."
  • McConnell has described church-state separation as never having been a "plausible or attractive conception of proper relations between government and religion in the modern activist state." He would have the country reject the idea "that taxpayers have a constitutional right to insist that none of their taxes be used for religious purposes."
  • Professor McConnell is a faculty advisor for the ultra-conservative Federalist Society and a member of the legal policy advisory board of the right-wing Washington Legal Foundation.

Who else opposes Michael McConnell?

Alliance for Justice
American Association of University Women
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy
Feminist Majority
Human Rights Campaign
National Abortion Federation
National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
National Partnership for Women and Families
NOW Legal Defense Fund
People for the American Way
Planned Parenthood
(list in progress)

Additional Information:

November 18, 2002
NCJW Decries Senate Confirmation of Michael McConnell

November 14, 2002
NCJW Disturbed by Senate Judiciary Action Approving Extremist Judges

September 17, 2002
NCJW Opposes Nomination of Michael W. McConnell to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

September 11, 2002
NCJW National President Urges Senator Leahy to Oppose Confirmation of Michael W. McConnell