As the Senate wraps up business in the last week before its traditional month-long summer recess, the Senate Republican leadership has voiced plans to bring several contentious judicial nominations to the floor for a vote.
Senate Republicans are expected to file a cloture motion today on William Pryor, President Bush’s extremist right-wing nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CongressDaily. Pryor's nomination, which could be blocked by a Senate filibuster, could come to the floor for a vote on Wednesday. "We're ready to go," Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told CongressDaily. "I think the majority leader is ready to go.” Pryor was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee just last week in a party-line vote.
On Friday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a third cloture motion on Priscilla Owen, President Bush's far-right nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Democrats have held a filibuster on Owen since April, despite two attempts by Senate Republicans to break that filibuster with a cloture vote.
Currently a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, Owen was rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee last year for her consistently anti-women's rights and anti-workers' rights rulings. Despite this, Bush renominated Owen after the Republicans won control of the Senate in the 2002 elections.
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. . . .