NCJW Opposes Confirmation of J. Leon Holmes to Arkansas District Court

July 1, 2004, Washington, DC -- The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) expressed its opposition today to the nomination of J. Leon Holmes to be a federal district court judge in Arkansas. NCJW President Marsha Atkind released the following statement:

"The nomination of Judge Holmes is troubling to NCJW members and friends. He has been an ardent opponent of reproductive freedom, with a history of organizational activism in the 'right-to-life' movement and support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Holmes worked with Illinois Right to Life in the early 1980s and then went on to become a co-founder of the Arkansas Pro-Life Educational Alliance. He also served as an officer of the Unborn Child Amendment Committee, whose goal was passage of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that would bar abortion altogether except to save the life of the mother. He has been president of Arkansas Right to Life and a member of the National Law Association, founded in the 1990s in response to the pro-choice position of the American Bar Association. In 1999, he received the leadership award of Arkansas Right to Life.

"Holmes has gone so far as to claim that 'concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami,' a statement belied by studies that estimate that between 25,000 and 32,000 women each year in the US become pregnant as a result of rape and about 50 percent of these pregnancies end in abortion.

"NCJW has generally not involved itself with lower court nominees, but it is difficult to believe, given the ardent nature of Holmes' views, that he would approach the bench with the requisite objectivity. We believe he should not be confirmed."

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 for all through its network of 90,000 members, supporters, and volunteers 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.