Credo Action

Senator Leahy: Stop allowing Republican senators to blackball pro-choice judges

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"Senator Leahy: Stop allowing Republican senators to blackball President Obama's pro-choice nominees to the federal courts. Your insistence on prioritizing an outdated and often abused Senate perk over the protection of women's rights is wrongheaded and dangerous. "

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    Senator Leahy: Stop allowing Republican senators to blackball pro-choice judges

    Michael Boggs, an anti-choice, anti-civil rights judge, is about to be confirmed by a Democratic U.S. Senate to a lifetime appointment to the federal courts in Georgia. How can this be happening?

    CREDO members worked hard for many years to fix the filibuster. It was a huge victory last year when the Senate changed its rules to allow for the confirmation of President Obama’s appointees, including judicial nominations, by an up-or-down vote.

    But it might surprise you that one senator, surprisingly a blue state Democrat with a 100 percent rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, now stands in the way confirming pro-choice, pro-civil rights nominees from states like Georgia that have anti-choice Senator willing to abuse senate rules.

    Tell Senator Patrick Leahy: We need judges who will protect a woman’s right to choose – stop allowing rightwing senators to blackball President Obama’s pro-choice nominees to the federal judiciary.

    Here’s what’s happening. Sen. Patrick Leahy is the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has a Democratic chair and a majority of Democrats, must vote to move President Obama’s nominees to the floor for a full Senate vote. But pro-choice nominees who come from states with even just one Republican senator can be prevented from ever receiving that crucial committee vote.

    Why? Because Sen Leahy refuses to retire the Senate tradition known as “blue slips,” which effectively requires President Obama to obtain pre-approval from senators before he can nominate a federal judge to the bench in their home state.

    Because Sen. Leahy refuses to pass any nominee out of the Judiciary Committee without a “blue slip” from both of the nominee’s senators, rightwing Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss have been able to block the president from nominating a pro-choice, pro-civil rights judge to serve on the federal courts in Georgia.

    Instead, Michael Boggs, a former state lawmaker in Georgia who is vehemently opposed by both pro-choice and civil rights groups, has now been nominated to fill a vacancy on the federal district court representing Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

    We’re disappointed that President Obama caved and nominated Michael Boggs. But when you take a deeper look at the nomination it’s clear that the responsibility for this anti-choice, anti-civil rights judge being on the verge of securing a lifetime appointment belongs to Sen. Patrick Leahy.

    Tell Senator Patrick Leahy: We need judges who will protect a woman’s right to choose – stop allowing rightwing senators to blackball President Obama’s pro-choice nominees to the federal judiciary.

    It’s important to note that President Obama never had the chance to successfully fill this judicial opening with someone who respects reproductive rights to the federal bench in Georgia because Senators Isakson and Chambliss would have refused to mark “I approve” on their blue slips.

    And this is not just about choice. Federal judges don't only decide state level challenges of laws that restrict access to safe, affordable abortions, like parental consent laws. They also rule on many other issues like voting rights, "stand your ground” laws, regulations on pollution, and corporate misconduct.

    This is a fight we can win. Requiring “blue slip” approval for judges and allowing anti-choice senators to blackball pro-choice nominees is entirely Senator Leahy’s choice – there is no law requiring Senator Leahy to wait for both blue slips. It’s a tradition he is choosing to follow which Republicans under President Bush largely ignored. If enough of us from the progressive base speak out and put pressure on Sen. Leahy, we can stop him from prioritizing preserving Senatorial perks over protecting women’s rights.

    Senator Leahy has a 100% voting record from both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood – but he can’t be a champion for women’s rights if he continues to be the reason why President Obama can’t nominate pro-choice judges in red states.