NCJW Launches Reproductive Rights Campaign with Challenge to Nomination of Judge Kuhl

July 10, 2001, Washington, DC - The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), long active in support of women's reproductive rights, has announced its commitment to examine all U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate court nominees, and to challenge those who oppose reproductive rights as embodied in Roe v. Wade, the landmark case decided in 1973. NCJW has launched a campaign to educate and mobilize its membership and the larger Jewish community to advocate for a judiciary that will protect a woman's right to choose.

"For over 100 years, NCJW has protected the rights of women - as a resource to those in need, as a pioneer in family planning, and today, as the leading pro-choice Jewish organization fighting to preserve reproductive rights. Now, NCJW plans to reach out to the Jewish community nationwide to educate and activate its allies to preserve a woman's right to choose through monitoring court appointments and challenging anti-choice nominees," said NCJW President Jan Schneiderman.

NCJW's first effort in this campaign will challenge the pending nomination of Judge Carolyn Kuhl of Los Angeles to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kuhl has made clear her opposition to the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, calling for its "abandonment." NCJW's opposition to Judge Kuhl marks the first time the organization has taken a stand on a judicial nominee below the Supreme Court level.

"Our scrutiny and advocacy regarding judicial nominees must extend to the entire federal appellate judicial system. Too often in the past, women's reproductive rights have been curtailed by the federal appellate courts, whose decisions have been endorsed by the Supreme Court or been allowed to stand unreviewed, with restrictive provisions intact," Schneiderman added. "Furthermore, recent Supreme Court Justices have been drawn from the federal appellate bench, where judges have acquired the credentials they need to be considered for the high court. The situation is urgent and the statistics are dramatic."

From 1993 to 2001, conservatives blocked 36 nominations made by President Clinton. During the eight years of the Reagan presidency, only 9 nominations were blocked. Currently, 32 of 179 total authorized federal appellate court judgeships are vacant, or nearly 20% of the federal appellate judiciary. In the next four years, 18 additional vacancies may be created when sitting judges assume senior status. In this term, President Bush may have the opportunity to appoint nearly 30% of the federal appellate judiciary.

"Conservatives in Congress have stymied mainstream judicial nominees during the '90s in the hope that winning back the White House would enable them to control the federal judiciary. NCJW will join with others in this campaign to see that the judicial nomination process proceeds fairly," said President Schneiderman. "Opposing Judge Kuhl's nomination to the appellate bench is the first step in our effort to safeguard the constitutional rights of the majority who support the Roe v. Wade decision and a woman's right to choose."

NCJW is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works to improve the quality of life for women, children and families and to ensure individual rights and freedoms through research, education, advocacy and community service programs initiated by its network of 90,000 volunteers, supporters and members nationwide.