NCJW Expresses Grave Disappointment Over Renomination of Pickering and Owen

January 7, 2003, Washington, DC – The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today expressed its grave disappointment that President Bush has chosen to renominate Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen to seats on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement:

"Members of the National Council of Jewish Women are deeply disappointed by President Bush's decision to renominate two candidates for seats on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals who were defeated in committee in 2002. U.S. district court judge Charles Pickering and Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen failed to win approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee because of their disregard for the civil rights of minorities and women, including the right to privacy. Justice Owen repeatedly ignored Texas law in matters relating to reproductive rights. Judge Pickering has been a foe of abortion rights and the equal rights amendment for decades, and showed repeated disdain on the bench for plaintiffs in employment discrimination.

"Pickering was also the personal choice of former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, who was poised to be Majority Leader of the 108th Congress until remarks he made in support of the cause of racial segregation forced him to step down. President Bush was right to sharply criticize Lott's remarks, but he will squander the moral leadership he asserted in that case if he does not also refrain from nominating judges whose views on fundamental constitutional rights would roll back the gains made in the last 40 years. By sending these two names to the Senate once again, the administration is also sending the message that its nominees need not adhere to the standard set by the President when he criticized Trent Lott's remarks.

"NCJW will redouble its efforts to help defeat these two nominees again."

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. 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.