How can NCJW members and others affect the nominations process?

When someone is nominated by the President to become a judge, the public can have an impact by advocating to Senators for or against the confirmation of the nominee, just as the public has a role in influencing Congress on the passage of a law. Testifying at Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, contacting Senators, organizing coalitions with like-minded groups, conducting petition drives and phone banks, holding press conferences and rallies -- all are legitimate means of expressing support or opposition to a nominee. Public opposition has had a significant impact on the nominating process in the past. Two of President Nixon's Supreme Court nominees were defeated in the Senate; President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork was also defeated; and the nomination of Clarence Thomas by President George H.W. Bush was nearly defeated -- all because of the efforts of advocates and ordinary Americans who found their views too extreme.

How does this issue relate to freedom of religion?

Religious freedom speaks to the right of individuals to be respected as moral decision-makers, able to make choices based on their religious beliefs and traditions as well as their consciences. The debate surrounding reproductive choice is unmistakably tied to this freedom. Views on reproductive issues vary between religions and even within religions, depending on a woman's circumstances. Imposing a single belief on all of us compromises our right to abide by our own religious teachings on this important personal issue.

Isn't NCJW proposing a single-issue "litmus test" for judges?

No. Other than professional credentials, moral character, and judicial temperament, the basic qualification for a judge is that she or he uphold our constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and the progress that has been made on civil rights and individual liberties. Judges and justices serve for life, and a nominee's position on basic constitutional principles will affect millions of people far into the future. Ideology has historically played a role in the confirmation of judges. In fact, George Washington's first nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Rutledge, was rejected by the Senate based on his views.

Note: Some information based on Center for Reproductive Law and Policy report: Privacy Law and the U.S. Supreme Court: Before and After Roe v. Wade; Issued January 7, 1998; Updated June 2000