Right-Wing Judicial Nominee Ducks Questions in Second Hearing
In what became a frustrating three-hour session for Senate Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a second hearing on President Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. During the hearing held earlier this week, Roberts remained tight-lipped about his judicial philosophy. "You are making this an absurd process," Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told Roberts. "I think there is something going on here when you're not willing to answer questions."
Roberts was already approved by the judiciary committee in February. However, Senate Democrats asked that he be brought back for an additional hearing because his February hearing was held along with Jeffrey Sutton and Deborah Cook. Senate Republicans agreed to the second hearing if the Senate Democratic leadership agreed not to filibuster the Roberts nomination when it comes to the floor for a full vote - expected sometime next week.
Roberts, currently an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC, helped write a brief in 1991 that called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. He also has argued against civil rights laws being used to protect abortion clinics from violence, affirmative action for minority business contractors and the application of Title IX to the NCAA. During his hearing, he refused to tell the judiciary committee which three past Supreme Court cases he most disagrees with and he refused to describe which justices have the most divergent philosophies.
In response to direct questioning about Roe v. Wade, Roberts refused to characterize his opinion on the case - he instead told the committee that he would uphold settled law. "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land, it was even reaffirmed," Roberts said. "There is nothing in my personal views that would keep me from upholding it." Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Roberts that his answers in regard to Roe v. Wade were evasive. "I need more," Durbin said.
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. . . .