AFJ President Nan Aron often says that “the left sees the courts as a path to justice; the right sees the courts as a path to power.”
Now ultraconservative judges in two circuits have issued decisions giving the right just what it wants – more power over women’s lives and women’s bodies.
Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal district court and reinstated one of the worst provisions of the appalling anti-abortion law in Texas – the provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic where abortions are performed (which is medically unnecessary and designed to shut down clinics).
As a result, clinics across the state that perform abortion are already shutting down. Of the 36 clinics performing abortions in Texas, 13 will have to close their doors, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles, and adding to their personal pain and expense – if they can get to a clinic at all.
In blocking the requirement on Monday, Judge Lee Yeakel of United States District Court in Austin accepted the argument of the clinics, and many doctors and national medical associations, that requiring admitting privileges had no bearing on safety because in the rare event of an emergency, patients will be rushed to the nearest hospital and treated the same way regardless.
But just three days later, three judges, all appointed by George W. Bush, overturned Judge Yeakel’s decision.
Then, today, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that two owners of a private, for-profit business could deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control because they claim it offended their religious beliefs. The decision was written by Janice Rogers Brown, whose deeply-disturbing extremist views are well-known. She once referred to the onset of the New Deal as the “triumph of our own socialist revolution.”
Both of these cases are likely to wind up at the Supreme Court.
These decisions are two more classic examples of the judicial overreach of the far right. Decisions like these illustrate the real reason Republicans have engaged in unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s judicial nominees – particularly his nominees for the D.C. Circuit.
● It is because of these kinds of assaults on justice that AFJ is leading the fight to fill every vacancy on the D.C. Circuit. [link to DC Circuit landing page]
● It’s because of these kinds of assaults on justice that AFJ produced its 15-minute documentary Roe at Risk.
● And it is because of these kinds of decisions that Nan Aron and AFJ Justice Programs Director Michelle Schwartz will be in Texas next week, working closely with local advocates for reproductive justice and filling judicial vacancies.
We’re working to clear the obstacles in the path to justice.