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Feminist Majority Opposes President Bush’s Anti-Women Judicial Nominee

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Must Vote Against McConnell

WASHINGTON, DC - With a judicial record that is clearly anti-women, Michael McConnell, President Bush’s nominee to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, poses an imminent danger to women’s rights, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority declared today. The Feminist Majority joins a group of women’s rights, abortion rights, civil rights and other progressive organizations in opposing Bush’s latest attempt to stack the courts with judges who will limit a woman’s right to choose.

“Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee must continue to send President Bush the message that they will not approve judges that will take away women’s rights and roll the clock backwards according to a right-wing ideology. At this time of global turmoil, we don’t need extremists in the courts willing to make a Dred Scott decision in the area of women’s fundamental rights,” Smeal said. “McConnell has openly stated that he believes that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional. He signed a statement of pro-life principle and concern that calls for embryos to be considered persons under the law. He applauded a judge for not following the Freedom of Access To Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). Over and over again, he has used his right-wing ideology in place of the law to chip away at the basic human rights of women.”

The Feminist Majority joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Abortion Rights and Action League (NARAL), People for the American Way (PFAW), Americans United For The Separation of Church and State and others at a press conference today in Washington to inform both members of the Judiciary Committee and the public about McConnell’s record of ignoring legal precedent in favor of his own right-wing ideologies.

Currently a law professor at the University of Utah, McConnell has made no secret of his anti-women sentiments. The following are some examples:
· In 1993, McConnell testified before Congress that FACE was unconstitutional. “Those who seek abortions have no constitutional right to be spared the indignity and distress of learning that many of their fellow citizens consider the act of abortion tantamount to murder,” he wrote in an essay based on this testimony that was published in the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & The Law.
· In 1996, McConnell signed “The America We Seek: A Statement of Pro-Life Principle and Concern,” which states: “We seek an America in which every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life…We believe that a renewal of American democracy as a virtuous society requires us to honor and promote an ethic of self-command and mutual responsibility, and to resist the siren song of the false ethic of unbridled self-expression.”
· In a 1998 Wall Street Journal article, McConnell called Roe v. Wade “an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously.” He then criticized the Supreme Court for this landmark ruling, stating: “The Supreme Court brought great discredit on itself by overturning state laws regulating abortion without any persuasive basis in constitutional text or logic.”

McConnell is the third in a string of right-wing activists nominated to lifelong federal bench positions by President Bush. Both Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, were rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee for their propensity to trumpet their own right-wing ideologies over the law.

If appointed, McConnell would preside over the Appeals Court for the Tenth Circuit, which includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. As a lifelong appointee to one of the highest courts in the nation, McConnell could seriously jeopardize the rights of women.

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