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Senate Committee Approves Kuhl; Democrats Block Estrada and Owen

In a strict party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 yesterday to approve President Bush's nomination of Carolyn Kuhl to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for consideration by the full Senate. Kuhl, a far-right ideologue from California, was approved despite opposition from both of both California senators. "My vote on this nomination is due to a lack of certainty...on matters of intense importance to people of the Ninth Circuit," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the judiciary committee's sole woman member. "In my judgment, I can have no certainty that these deeply held views will not resurface."

Carolyn Kuhl has a long history of opposing women's rights. During her tenure as Deputy Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration's Justice Department, Carolyn Kuhl advocated the overturn of Roe v. Wade. During this period, Kuhl also was one of the principal authors of a brief opposing the woman who was a victim of sexual harassment and siding with the employer in the landmark Meritor Savings Bank case. In 2001, as a judge on the LA Superior Court, Kuhl dismissed a lawsuit brought by a breast cancer survivor against a pharmaceutical company for invasion of privacy after a sales representative for the company stood in on a breast exam without her consent. This dismissal has caused some Republican Senators to express concern over Kuhl's nomination. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) said that while he would vote for Kuhl in committee, he had not decided how he would vote when her nomination was considered by the full Senate. In addition, "Senate aides said one or more of the four Republican women senators might have reservations about confirming her," the New York Times reported.

In other judicial news, Senate Democrats continued to hold the line on filibusters against Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen - with Republicans failing to garner cloture votes for the sixth time on Estrada and the second time on Owen. However, in observation of the second anniversary of President Bush's original judicial nominations, Republicans stepped up their efforts to stop filibusters against judicial nominees - despite the fact that 123 of Bush's nominees have been approved and only two are being filibustered, while 55 of Clinton's nominees never even got a hearing. "There is a desperate need now for moderate judges and for less partisanship in the nominating process," Columnist E.J. Dionne wrote in the Washington Post. "If Bush were willing to reach out and consult with his opponents, the judicial wars would end. Until that happens, the filibuster is the only way to prevent the president from creating a federal judiciary dominated by ideologues of his own persuasion, appointed to satisfy his political base."

Media Resources: Feminist Majority 5/8/03; New York Times 5/9/03; Washington Post 5/9/03; Associated Press 5/8/03; LA Times 5/9/03

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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