Owen Filibuster Continues, Votes Planned for Estrada, Kuhl, Pryor
As President Bush continues to nominate far-right candidates to fill federal judgeships, Senate Republicans are adding Miguel Estrada and Carolyn Kuhl to their list of planned votes on the Senate floor this week. A vote on right-wing nominee William Pryor is also planned before the Senate begins its summer recess next week and a vote on Priscilla Owen was held today.
With a vote of 53-43, Senate Democrats continued to hold a filibuster against Owen, President Bush's nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Owen, who was renominated despite her rejection by the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee last year for her consistently anti-women's rights and anti-workers' rights rulings, has been up for three cloture votes - all three have failed.
Democrats could filibuster Kuhl and Pryor as well, bringing the total number of filibusters against judicial nominees to four - compared to a total of 140 nominations approved by the Senate during Bush's term. "Democrats have stopped two of President Bush's nominees, Republicans stopped 60 - six zero - of President Clinton's," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said, as reported by the Associated Press.
Kuhl, who has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May despite opposition from both California senators. Pryor, a far-right extremist nominated to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is scheduled for a floor vote after being approved by a party-line vote in committee just last week.
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. . . .