The President is expected to name a new nominee to replace Justice O’Connor on the Supreme Court very soon, so the speculation over who he might choose is reaching fever pitch. We’ve started to look into the records of some of the potential nominees, and some of what we’ve found is pretty disturbing. Here are a couple of tidbits:
- Edith Jones, a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, made a series of fairly outrageous comments when the court heard a sexual harassment case in the late 1980s. She reportedly dismissed the extreme harassment that a woman endured at work by asking, “They didn’t rape her, did they?” When the plaintiff’s attorney pointed out that her client’s co-worker had “pinched her breast,” Judge Jones reportedly replied, “Well, he apologized,” and gasps could be heard in the courtroom. Finally, she reportedly suggested that she saw the case differently because it involved blue-collar workers at a factory rather than “lawyers” or other “white-collar workers,” saying, “We’re dealing with people whose standards are different.”
- Emilio Garza, another judge on the Fifth Circuit, has written in scathing terms about his disagreement with Roe v. Wade, comparing it to Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous case in which the Supreme Court upheld the racist doctrine of “separate but equal.” He also derided Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a later decision which reaffirmed the central holding of Roe, calling it “inimical to the Constitution.”
- Janice Rogers Brown, a judge on the D.C. Circuit, said in an apparent reference to Social Security that senior citizens “blithely cannibalize their grandchildren [to] get as much ‘free’ stuff as the political system will permit them to extract.”
- Michael McConnell, a judge on the 10th Circuit, signed a statement in 1996 calling for a constitutional amendment that would give a “right to life” to embryos and fetuses, thus making all abortion illegal. He also wrote that “one cannot help admiring” the actions of a trial judge who, because of his sympathy with anti-abortion protesters, acquitted two defendants of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to use violence or physical obstruction against abortion providers, even though McConnell himself admitted that “as a matter of law [the judge] was probably wrong” and that “there can be little doubt that the two defendants . . . violated [the law] willfully.”
None of these are promising signs. We hope that the President will choose a nominee who will have respect for the rights of American women, instead of one who has spent his or her career trying to cut back on those rights.