week in Review 11-1-2019
The courts this week took an important step toward protecting women's reproductive rights with two key rulings.
Judge Myron Thompson, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, blocked Alabama's extreme abortion ban saying it "defies the United States Constitution." Alabama's law is the strictest in the nation. It contains no exception for rape and incest.
Judge J. Clifford Wallace, joined by Judge Susan Graber, wrote an opinion saying that the Trump administration rules giving employers with religious or moral objections the right to opt out of Obamacare's requirement that they provide birth control coverage in employee health plans aren't enforceable.
President Richard Nixon appointed Wallace. He was confirmed by a Democratic Senate. Susan Graham was appointed by Clinton and approved by GOP-controlled Senate.
All of these judges were deemed qualified and held opinions and philosophies within the judicial mainstream. The Senate approved them without consideration to political ideology.
Today, politics are more important than judicial principles. Judges are nominated and confirmed based on their extreme views which are aligned with Trump's.
The Senate is getting ready to take up the nomination of Steven Menashi. He is considered one of Trump's most dangerous judicial nominees to date. As Betsy DeVos's right-hand man at the Department of Education, Menashi worked to strip away critical protections for students, sexual assault survivors, LGBTQ people, and people of color.
Menashi could be joined on the courts by Sarah Pitlyk. She spent her career attacking women's reproductive rights, including in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy. Pitlyk has likened birth control to abortion.
While the House is battling to protect the principles of the Constitution, the Senate continues to turn away from those principles when it comes to our courts. This will only change when we elect candidates to the Senate who believe that our nation's judges must provide entitled equal protection under the law to all.
Elections matter because courts matter.