Senators Differ on Impact of Nuclear Option on Supreme Court Nomination
With Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, Senators on both sides have begun to discuss the potential impact of the so-called "nuclear option" and the deal that took it off the table in May. The deal struck by seven Democratic and seven Republican Senators preserved the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees in “extraordinary circumstances,” the definition of which was left up to each of the 14 Senators. At the time, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, asked the question, “Will saving women’s lives, women’s rights, and civil rights be considered such an extraordinary circumstance?”
Now Senators disagree about what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the signers of the deal to avoid the nuclear option, said on FOX News Sunday that to him, ideology would not be considered an extraordinary circumstance – rather, such a circumstance would have to be “a character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the qualifications of the person…” Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), another member of the deal, agreed through a spokesperson that “ideology is not an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ unless you get to the extreme of either side,” according to the Washington Post. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) believes that “a pattern of irresponsible judgment, where decisions are based on ideology rather than the law, could potentially be ‘extraordinary’,” according to a spokesperson’s interview with the Post. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), on the other hand, told the Post, “In my mind, extraordinary circumstances would include not only extraordinary personal behavior but also extraordinary ideological positions.”
Under the terms of the deal to avoid the nuclear option, three of the worst far-right Circuit Court of Appeals nominees who had been blocked by Senate Democrats were allowed simple majority votes. On FOX News Sunday, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that this means that those three judges, and judges like them, do not constitute extraordinary circumstances. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CBS News’ Face the Nation that the Supreme Court is a “totally different ball game” than the appellate courts. He said that a nominee like Janice Rogers Brown, who was confirmed under the nuclear option deal to serve on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, would “probably be filibustered.” Rogers Brown has been widely mentioned in the press as a potential nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. She is a supporter of the constitution in exile, questioning the constitutionality of Social Security and most New Deal programs to regulate big business.
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. . . .