Next week, Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard will try to get nominated by the Senate to the second most powerful court in the country. If she passes muster, she will do it against almost insurmountable odds.
Professor Pillard has been pulled into a fight to control the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is trying to get nominated to a Court that George W. Bush succeeded in getting three judges appointed to.
Recently, these three Bush appointees granted the state of Texas’ request to reinstate a law that will force many of the state’s abortion clinics to close their doors. The effect of these Bush appointments has allowed Republicans to dominate areas of ideology that affect all of our lives.
The GOP has managed to: block environmental regulations that would save tens of thousands of lives, to undermine unions and to limit women’s access to birth control. If Pillard and her fellow nominees are confirmed to the three empty seats on this court, however, Democratic nominees will have the votes required to reverse ideological decisions from the court’s conservative bloc.
As a matter of record: She has openly and proudly exclaimed, “Reproductive rights,” she explains in a law review article that’s been widely criticized by conservatives, “really are fundamentally about sex equality.” These rights, including the rights to contraception and abortion, “allow women to decide whether and when to follow the path of motherhood.”
That statement alone would put a halt to anyone trying to replace one of three judges making up the most Republican Court in the land. It is no wonder that the Senate majority leader will try as early as next Tuesday to call a vote on the “umpteenth” filibuster the GOP has wasted time with on the Senate floor.
To add to the Professor’s nomination issues, “Pillard is one of the nation’s leading women’s rights attorneys, and she won one of the most important anti-gender stereotyping cases to reach the Supreme Court in the last few decades.” Nina Pillard has one of the most left-sided resumes an Obama judgeship nominee has ever had.
So why did our President want a strong progressive feminist like Pillard to go through such right-wing torment. In the past Obama has been very reluctant to want this kind of confrontation. The stakes are high for both sides here. If he can get these three nominees passed Republican objections, he will severely change the U.S. District Court of Appeals’ political perspective for years to come.
Obama knew that anyone who openly admitted to being pro-choice had almost no chance to become a federal judge. In the end, the White House will not make the ultimate decision nor will it rest with the GOP.
Senate Democrats are going to have to stand up and be counted on this one. They are going to have to come together, like never before, and stop the Republican filibuster. They can do it by invoking the so-called “nuclear option.” Senate Democrats can abolish the filibuster with a simple majority vote and eliminate the GOP’s power to veto nominees like Nina Pillard. However, they can’t do it if they don’t stick together.
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.