In my email today from Drew Courtney, Director of Communications at PFAW, was the following:
One item that didn’t get the attention it deserved during the hearings of DC Circuit nominee Nina Pillard today is her role leading Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute. The SCI offers its moot courts as a public service, at no charge and irrespective of the positions taken by counsel, reflecting a core commitment to the quality of Supreme Court advocacy in all cases.
Members of the Supreme Court Bar, including Carter Phillips, Andrew Pincus, Lawrence Robbins and Charles Rothfeld (all attorneys in the Solicitor General’s office under President Ronald Reagan) cited Pillard’s work leading the Supreme Court Institute in the letter they wrote calling for her confirmation.
“Professor Pillard is also Faculty Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute (SCI), a unique project at Georgetown University Law Center, dedicated to improving practice before the Supreme Court. The SCI recruits professors and attorneys with experience in Supreme Court litigation to act as mock justices to help prepare lawyers for oral argument in the Court. The SCI offers its services impartially on a first-come, first-served basis to advocates with upcoming cases in the Supreme Court, and it has become so popular in recent years that it assisted lawyers in every case argued in the Court’s last Term. Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, and many others from the bench and bar have praised the work of the SCI in contributing to the quality of advocacy. Most of us have participated as advocates and/or Justices at SCI moot court sessions. Over more than a decade, Professor Pillard has personally mooted dozens of cases, whether the advocate is a first-time lawyer or former Solicitor General, doing her best to help each advocate develop and present the best argument possible to the Court, regardless of the issue in the case or the ideological position of the party being represented.
We believe that Professor Pillard would bring to the D.C. Circuit unquestioned professional integrity and intellect, a breadth of experience, and dedication to fairness and the rule of law. We urge her confirmation.”
Ms. Pillard is facing an uphill battle getting her nomination out of the Senate Judiciary committee. Nina Pillard is being nominated for an open position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court has exclusive jurisdiction over many vital national security challenges and hears the bulk of appeals from the major regulatory agencies of the federal government. Aside from the U.S. Supreme Court, it resolves more constitutional questions involving separation of powers and executive prerogatives than any court in the country. As such, it’s one of the busiest circuit courts.
Some of the GOP’s biggest nay-sayers sit on the Senate Judiciary committee (Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, Lindsay Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake ), and thus far, they’ve been very successful at crippling the DC Circuit court’s ability to handle some of our nation’s most challenging cases. At today’s hearing, Republican committee members zeroed in and fixated on an article she wrote in 1997 that suggested that abstinence-only sex education may violate the equal protection rights of women.
Instead of demeaning and painting Ms. Pillard as a mere characture, maybe Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee should check in with President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, who says of Pillard “… is a fair-minded thinker with enormous respect for the law and for the limited, and essential, role of the federal appellate judge—qualities that would make her well prepared to take on the work of a DC Circuit judge. I am confident that she would approach the judicial task of applying laws to facts in a fair and meticulous manner.”
GOP Senators should rethink their premise. Professor Pillard’s academic writings actually show her openness to viewpoints raised by abortion opponents.
- Professor Pillard consulted anti-abortion advocate Helen Alvaré in writing her article ‘Other Reproductive Choices’ to ensure her work considered all sides of the public debate on women’s reproductive health. In fact, Professor Alvaré is listed in the article’s acknowledgements.
- Pillard wrote, “Feminists for Life (FFL), a nonprofit organization declaring itself in favor of equality for women and against abortion, makes some claims that resonate with those of some pro-choice feminists, and which should be common ground in the reproductive rights battles.” (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 981)
Moreover, there have been multiple Circuit Court nominees who have written extensively on controversial issues such as abortion from a anti-choice point of view, who went on to be confirmed with strong support from Republicans.
- William Pryor, nominated to Eleventh Circuit, had called Roe v Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” but was led to say that even though he strongly disagreed with Roe, he would act in accordance with it if confirmed. He was confirmed.
- Michael McConnell, nominated to the Tenth Circuit, said Roe was wrongly decided and urged the Supreme Court to overturn it. He called for a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of the unborn. He also applauded a federal judge for refusing to convict anti-abortion protestors, even though they had clearly violated the law, because of his sympathetic reading of the defendants’ motives. He was unanimously confirmed.
- J. Leon Holmes, an Arkansas district court nominee, had argued that abortion should be banned even in case of rape because pregnancy from rape is as uncommon as “snowfall in Miami,” and had written that wives should be submissive to their husbands. He was confirmed.
- Janice Rogers Brown, also nominated to the DC Circuit, had made multiple provocative remarks in speeches, such as referring to the New Deal as the start of a Socialist movement. She admitted that she was trying to be provocative, but assured the committee at her hearing that she “would follow precedent.” She was confirmed.
If we want something other than continual obstruction, WE need to take just a few minutes from our day, and let our Senators know where we stand and urge them to take the action we support. It’s up to us. This morning, I took the time to send an email to both Senator Reid and Senator Heller asking them both to actively support and vote for her confirmation. I also took the time to email each GOP Senator on the Judiciary Committee asking them to vote for her confirmation. I hope you’ll do the same by clicking the above links for Senators Reid and Heller and asking them for their vote of confirmation. Or, if you’re an out-of-state reader, you can find a link to your Senator’s email contact form HERE.
- Unlikely snag for D.C. Circuit Court nominee: Abstinence sex-ed YahooNews
- D.C. Circuit Nominee Under Fire on Capitol Hill (legaltimes.typepad.com)
- Cornelia Pillard, Obama’s extreme feminist judicial nominee (powerlineblog.com)
- Supreme Court advocates becoming D.C. Circuit judges (scotusblog.com)
- Conservatives Gear Up For War To Keep Top Women’s Rights Attorney Off The Bench (thinkprogress.org.feedsportal.com)
- Obama Judicial Nominee Calls Abstinence Education ‘Unconstitutional’ (sgtreport.com)