July 18, 2002
Priscilla Owen, judicial activist

President Bush is lobbying for Priscilla Owen, a Texas Supreme Court judge and nominee for the federal bench, to get a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can argue about whether the Committee is being needlessly obstructionist or just playing by the rules that were in play when Bill Clinton was President, but as Chron columnist Cragg Hines says, there are plenty of good reasons why Judge Owens should stay in Austin.

Here's the best reason of all:

If President Bush really wants "strict constructionists" on the federal bench, why on earth did he nominate Priscilla R. Owen to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals? She's got to be a finalist for Judicial Activist of the Year.


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."

Should Judge Owens ever get a hearing in the Judiciary Committee, I sincerely hope that someone asks her about this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 18, 2002 to Show Business for Ugly People