Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is DC Circuit Nominee Nina Pillard Obama's Newest Attack on the 1st Amendment?

Today there is a hearing for Nina Pillard to the second most powerful court in the land, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.  There are issues whether her nomination is necessary as President Obama nominated three people to the DC Circuit, a court that does not have the case load of other circuits and for years has not had a full complement of members under both Republican and Democrat Presidents. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy(D-VT) seems to be rushing this nomination.  There has not even been time to review all Ms. Pillard’s documents.  Putting all that aside, there are still serious questions about Ms. Pillard. 

One of those is the issue of free speech.  Regardless of how one feels on the issues of life, Ms. Pillard’s positions on the issue are extremely troubling. 

·         Ms. Pillard believes that abstinence education is “Unconstitutional.”  In Our Other Reproductive Choices:  Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access, and Work-Family Policy, 56 Emory L.J. 941, 948 (2007) she wrote: “The abstinence-only approach is permeated with stereotyped messages and sex-based double standards about acceptable male and female sexual behavior and appropriate social roles. Public school teaching of gender stereotypes violates the constitutional bar against sex stereotyping and is vulnerable to equal protection challenge.”

·         Ms. Pillard likens Pro-Life groups to the Ku Klux Klan.  “Congress originally enacted [the] Ku Klux Klan [Act to bar] … violence that terrorized black people and Reconstruction supporters and impeded local officials from protecting them.    The act applies … also to private groups like the Klan or Operation Rescue ….”[16]  Pillard continued:  “Additionally, in Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, the Supreme Court upheld state-law buffer zones and other restrictions around abortion clinics against free speech challenges.  While relief from antiabortion protestors under RICO initially seemed promising, the Court held in Scheidler v. NOW that abortion protesters’ interference with or shutting down of clinics did not amount to the RICO predicate act of ‘extortion,’ such that RICO did not apply.”

As a judge Ms. Pillard needs to respect the political views of those she disagrees with.  However, her writings call into question her ability to do that. 

The Obama Administration has long had a war on free speech.  The Senate needs to ask difficult questions of Ms. Pillard to ensure that she is not the Administration’s latest effort to stop the speech of those that they disagree with.  (H/T to the Judicial Action Group for the research above.)

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