Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | April 30, 2003

Dems to filibuster Owens

Be still my beating heart, the Dems are going to filibuster another Bush judicial nominee -- the odious Priscilla Owen!

I must admit being a bit taken aback at this newfound moxie in the Senate's Democratic delegation, but I like it.

The new filibuster target will be Priscilla Owen a Texas judge and home-state favorite of the president's who was nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Democrats have called Owen, who sits on the Texas Supreme Court, an anti-abortion, pro-business judicial activist whose opinions and rulings are overly influenced by her personal beliefs.

"Her record is so egregious that we have no choice but to filibuster," Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said.

It's surprising the GOP doesn't agree, considering they rant and rave against "judicial activists". And by all accounts, Owens is one of those. Indeed, none other than White House counsel Alberto Gonzales -- then a justice on the Texas Supreme Court -- accused Owens of "unconscionable judicial activism."

As Houston Chronicle columnist Cragg Hines wrote back in July 2002:

It doesn't take a raving pinko to catch on to Owen's act. Actually, it was pointed out very astutely by Alberto R. Gonzales, now Bush's White House counsel, when he was on the state's top civil court with her.

In dissents and concurrences in abortion cases two years ago, Owen said everything except that the U.S. Supreme Court majority in Roe v. Wade should be shot at dawn. She sought to contort the state court's already conservative interpretation of the parental notification provision to make it even more, well, conservative.

Gonzales, hardly an ACLU flamer, took a moment in his concurring opinion in one abortion case to point out that what the dissenters (who included Owen) were trying to accomplish were "policy decisions for the Legislature." What the dissenters had in mind, Gonzales said, "would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism."

By now, Al may wish that his computer had frozen that day (or that his law clerk couldn't spell "unconscionable"). But there it is -- one of the most delicious tidbits in a growing case of why the U.S. Senate should reject Owen.

So I'm sure top Senate hypocrite Orin Hatch will pull the Owens confirmation from the floor? As he's said before:
"Those nominees who are or will be judicial activists should not be nominated by the President or confirmed by the Senate, and I personally will do my best to see to it that they are not."
Didn't Hatch get Gonzales' memo?

On the bad news front, the Senate confirmed Judge Jeff Sutton today. But to be honest, he's nowhere near as evil as Owens and Pickering (who will soon get his turn at a Democratic filibuster). And the Dems need to wield the filibuster tool carefully. The GOP has earned a certain degree of deference in these matters -- they took control of the Senate from an ineffective Democratic Party. To the winners go the spoils.

But extremist nominees need to be stopped. I'm quite happy with our resurgent Democratic Party.

There's hope yet.

Posted April 30, 2003 01:12 AM | Comments (81)


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