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Bush's crackpot choice for judge

August 2, 2002 | Page 2

PRISCILLA OWEN is considered a conservative crank even by other conservative cranks.

Alberto Gonzales--who served as a justice with Owen on the Texas Supreme Court and is now the current White House counsel--once criticized Owen for her fanatical opposition to an abortion in 2000. Following her lead "would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism," Gonzales said.

But that hasn't stopped Gonzales and the rest of the Bush gang from going all out to win Senate confirmation of Owen's nomination to be a justice on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Not everyone is enthusiastic. "Her nomination really shocked a lot of Texas Supreme Court insiders, because she was not considered the best and the brightest," a former Texas Supreme Court clerk told Salon magazine.

Nan Aron, of the Alliance for Justice, was more direct. "Mention her name and people say, 'Oh, Judge Enron‚'" Aron told Britain's Observer newspaper. That's because Owen received more than $8,000 in political contributions from Enron during her campaigns for the Texas Supreme Court. In return, she wrote the opinion in a decision that exempted the energy giant from paying school taxes.

Owen is best known, though, as an especially crazed opponent of abortion. During her career as a judge, she has heard numerous cases regarding the state's parental notification law--and in every case but one, she voted against the women seeking abortions.

Unbelievably, Republicans claim that Democrats are opposing Owen because she's a woman. Democrats are expected to block the nomination. But anti-abortion bigots have more attacks ready--including another bill to ban the late-term procedure misnamed "partial-birth" abortion.

We can't be complacent in the face of these attacks.

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