NCJW Applauds Rejection of Priscilla Owen for Fifth Circuit Court

September 5, 2002, Washington, DC - The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) expressed satisfaction today at the action of the Senate Judiciary Committee in refusing to approve the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement:
"Once again, a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee took seriously its constitutional obligation to 'advise and consent' on judicial nominations. The Committee's careful examination of Justice Owen's record led them to the conclusion that she was unworthy of a lifetime seat on the important 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. NCJW concurs with this opinion based on Justice Owen's record on the Texas bench. While on the Texas Supreme Court, she imposed her personal views on abortion on the most vulnerable of women choosing to exercise this right – minors seeking court approval, allowed under Texas law, to bypass parental notification. On six occasions, Justice Owen voted against allowing a minor female recourse to this judicial procedure, despite evidence that each of them had the maturity to make such a decision. In one case, her actions drew a rebuke from then-Justice Alberto Gonzales, who called her objection "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." Justice Gonzales is now White House counsel to President Bush.

"Justice Owen has repeatedly shown a disregard for Texas law in matters relating to reproductive rights. NCJW is gratified that she will not be able to continue this pattern on the 5th Circuit regarding both state and federal abortion law.

"NCJW believes the very basic requirement for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench is a commitment to constitutional rights, including reproductive choice. The Senate Judiciary Committee found rightly that Priscilla Owen failed to meet this standard."
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 and community service programs initiated by its network of 90,000 volunteers, supporters and members nationwide. It has launched BenchMark: NCJW's Campaign to Save Roe, a national effort to educate and mobilize NCJW members, the Jewish community, and friends and allies everywhere to promote a federal bench with judges that support fundamental freedoms, including a woman's right to choose.