Stopping Right Wing Judicial Activism
Priscilla R. Owen, nominated for the 5th Circuit Court
A strident opponent of reproductive rights, workers' rights, civil rights, consumers' rights and environmental protection.
Priscilla Owen hired Karl Rove to run her first campaign for the Texas Supreme Court, where she has served as a justice since 1995. Critics charge that her confirmation to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will unduly favor the oil and gas industry she represented as a lawyer for the bulk of her legal career with Andrews & Kurth, for whom she worked from 1978 to 1994. Her opinions thus far on the Texas court suggest strident opposition to reproductive rights, workers' rights, civil rights, consumers' rights and environmental protection.Of special note has been White House counsel Alberto Gonzales' criticism of Owen as trying to implement "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" when they served on the Texas Supreme Court together, for interpreting a parental-consent statute to please antiabortion interests. Owen has proposed a particular view that abortion law be interpreted with a "religious awareness" standard.
While working at Andrews & Kurth in Houston, Owens was involved repeatedly on behalf of oil, gas and other energy-industry clients -- who later became prime donors to her campaigns for the Texas Supreme Court. Texans for Public Justice, a legal watchdog group, reports that Owen favored donors to her judicial campaigns 85 percent of the time when they appeared before her in court.
Owens' hometown newspaper the Houston Chronicle has editorialized that Owen is "less interested in impartially interpreting the law than in pushing an agenda."