NCJW National President Urges Senator Hatch to Oppose Confirmation of D. Michael Fisher

October 15, 2003, New York, NY - Marsha Atkind, National President of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) issued the following letter to Senator Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

October 15, 2003

The Honorable Orrin Hatch
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Hatch:

On behalf of the 90,000 members and supporters of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), I am writing to ask you to oppose the confirmation of D. Michael Fisher for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Michael Fisher’s career in public life gives ample evidence of his hostility to fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and separation of state and religion.

NCJW has long been a vigorous defender of a woman’s right to choose abortion. Fisher is virulently anti-choice. The list of anti-choice actions he has taken while serving in various official positions in the state of Pennsylvania is very long. Among other actions, he supported Pennsylvania’s 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. He signed an amicus brief in Stenberg v. Carhart in favor of the Nebraska ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion,” later 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 even opposes treating contraception on the same basis as other medical benefits. He has supported funding public health programs operated by religious groups that refuse to provide family planning services.

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.

In February 2003, Fisher was found to have deprived two law enforcement employees under his supervision of their civil rights. He was ordered by a federal district court jury to pay them more than $220,000 in actual and punitive damages. The case is likely headed to the same US appeals court to which Fisher has been nominated.

Fisher has been a tireless campaigner for his views and lacks credibility as an impartial arbiter of the law. I urge you to vote against his confirmation.


Marsha Atkind National President

cc: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

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.