In a vote of 51 to 46 yesterday, the Senate confirmed James Leon Holmes to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Holmes, who once wrote that "...a wife is to subordinate herself to her husband," holds far-right views on reproductive rights, the role of women, and separation of church and state. The confirmation vote had been previously postponed due to possible concerns among some Republican senators, reports People for the American Way. These concerns manifested in a vote that crossed party lines, with 5 Republicans - Chafee (RI), Collins (ME), Hutchison (TX), Snowe (ME), and Warner (VA) - voting against Holmes, and 6 Democrats - Breaux (LA), Landrieu (LA), Lincoln (AR), Miller (GA), Nelson (NE), and Pryor (AR) - voting for confirmation.
Holmes' record reflects his extreme anti-choice views. Holmes believes that both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were wrongly decided because they run counter to 'natural law.' He has compared pro-choice advocates to Nazis and abortion to slavery and has indirectly labeled abortion providers 'criminals.' Additionally, Holmes has refused to allow exemptions for abortion to victims of rape. "Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami," Holmes once callously stated. In fact, studies show that 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant each year in the US as a result of rape. Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told the LA Times that he considers Holmes "intolerant" and likely to "pursue an anti-abortion agenda and other conservative causes from the bench."
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .