On December 9, the Senate voted by unanimous consent (without a roll call) to confirm D. Michael Fisher to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

On November 6, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted (12 in favor, 7 voted present) to approve Fisher’s nomination. The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on this nomination on October 15. Fisher opposes fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and separation of religion and state, and has been ordered by a federal district court jury to pay punitive damages to two state employees for violating their civil rights. NCJW opposes Fisher’s confirmation.

Who is D. Michael Fisher?

  • D. Michael Fisher was born in November 1944 in Pittsburgh, PA. He obtained an A.B. degree in 1966 from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1969.
  • From 1970 to1974 Fisher was an assistant district attorney in the Allegheny County district attorney's office. From 1970 to 1975, he was also an associate with the firm Brenlove & Fisher.
  • From 1974 to 1980 Fisher was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He also served as an associate with Fisher & McGinley from 1975 to 1980.
  • In 1980 Fisher became a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, serving until 1996. During that time he was a partner in Fisher & Flynn (1981 to 1983) and a shareholder in Houston Harbaugh (1984 to 1997).
  • In 1997 Fisher became attorney general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where he currently serves.
      Why does NCJW oppose Fisher's nomination?

  • Fisher is virulently anti-choice. His views have been enunciated in various candidate questionnaires, public pronouncements, and legislative initiatives. The list of anti-choice actions he has taken while serving in various official positions in the state of Pennsylvania is very long.
  • As a state representative, Fisher voted for the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, which required anti-abortion counseling, a 24-hour waiting period, and spousal notification for women seeking abortions, as well as reporting requirements for abortion providers.
  • As state Attorney General, he joined an amicus brief in Stenberg v. Carhart in favor of the Nebraska ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion.” The ban was overturned by the Supreme Court because it failed to include an exception to preserve the health of the woman, imposed an undue burden on a woman's right to choose, and was so broad and vague that it could bar constitutionally protected abortion procedures performed before viability.
  • Fisher also supported laws that would punish those assisting minor women to cross state lines to obtain a legal abortion, testifying in favor of the Child Custody Protection Act before the US Senate Judiciary Committee and personally arguing as state Attorney General against abortion rights claims made to defend a woman who was prosecuted after she accompanied a teenaged girl across state lines to obtain an abortion.
  • Fisher also opposes longstanding bars against state support of religion. He defends posting the Ten Commandments in public schools, and favors publicly funded school vouchers for sectarian schools.
  • Of immediate concern, in February 2003, Fisher was found to have deprived two employees under his supervision of their civil rights and was ordered by a federal district court jury to pay them more than $220,000 in actual and punitive damages. The case will likely headed to the same circuit court of appeals to which Fisher has been nominated.

Who else opposes D. Michael Fisher?

Alliance for Justice
Americans for Democratic Action
Americans United for Separation of Church And State
Committee for Judicial Independence
Feminist Majority
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Abortion Federation
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
Now Legal Defense and Education Fund
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Sexuality Information and Education Council of The United States
Voters for Choice Action Fund

Additional Information:

October 15, 2003
NCJW Opposes Confirmation of D. Michael Fisher to 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals