Press Conference: Owen, the Classic Judicial Activist

The President likes to believe that his judicial nominees are being opposed because the candidates are individuals who believe in the philosphy that a judge should simply interpret the law rather than make the law from the bench. However, Judge Priscilla Owen — who may be the judicial nominee that Senate conservatives use to trigger the nuclear option — is widely opposed because of her judicial activism. Upon her nomination, several Texas papers weighed in. Here are some excerpts:

Austin-American Statesman, 4/29/03: “[O]wen is so conservative that she places herself out of the broad mainstream of jurisprudence. She seems all too willing to bend the law to fit her views, rather than the reverse.”

The Houston Chronicle, 5/12/03: “Owen’s judicial record shows less interest in impartially interpreting the law than in pushing an agenda…a justice who has shown a clear preference for ruling to achieve a particular result rather than impartially interpreting the law. Anyone willing to look objectively at Owen’s record would be hard-pressed to deny that.”

San Antonio Express, 7/21/02: “Once competency is established, the most important qualification for a judge is commitment to following the law as it is written — regardless of personal philosophy. Justice Priscilla Owen is clearly competent, but her record demonstrates a results-oriented streak that belies supporters’ claims that she strictly follows the law…The Senate should not block a judicial nominee simply because he or she is more conservative or more liberal than the Senate’s majority party. It also should not engage in petty personal attacks. But concerns about Owen go to the heart of what makes a good judge…When a nominee has demonstrated a propensity to spin the law to fit philosophical beliefs, it is the Senate’s right — and duty — to reject that nominee.”