Senate Democrats defeated the fourth cloture vote today with a vote of 55-44, maintaining a two-month filibuster against Miguel Estrada. Estrada was nominated by President Bush to serve on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, considered to be the most influential appeals court in the nation. Democrats say the filibuster will only end when Estrada reveals his views on critical issues such as abortion and civil rights. Democratic Senators have argued that his refusal to answer questions about his views impedes the Senate from having the information necessary to carry out its constitutional “advise-and-consent” duties in confirming presidential appointments.
Yesterday, the Senate approved with a 58-41 vote the nomination of Timothy Tymkovich, former Solicitor General of Colorado, for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Tymkovich has been a strong opponent of women’s rights, abortion rights and gay rights. He has argued that the state of Colorado should not have to provide Medicaid funds to Colorado women seeking abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. In addition, Tymkovich defended the state’s anti-gay Amendment 2, which later was invalidated by the US Supreme Court. Tymkovich argued that Amendment 2 only prohibited “special rights” for gay and lesbian individuals and cited statistics that showed that gay and lesbian individuals “have higher incomes than heterosexual individuals and claimed, therefore, that there was no need for anti-discrimination protection,” according to the AAUW.
The Feminist Majority joins a wide variety of women’s rights, civil rights, consumer rights, environmental, labor, gay rights, and other progressive groups in opposing the confirmations of Estrada and Tymkovich.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .