Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has been having flashbacks lately of his time working as a lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 2000s. The vitriol against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett reminds him of how the Democrats like to smear any judicial nominee of a Republican president. He's seen them play this game before up close, and on the House floor on Monday he shared two examples. In 2003, he witnessed the Democrats disrespect two district court nominees because, in his conclusion, they were conservative women.
When Priscilla Owen was nominated to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bush, she was demonized by left-leaning groups as "ultraconservative." It may not surprise you that a fair share of the criticism had to do with her take in a controversial abortion case.
The dispute involved a 17-year-old high school student who wanted to get an abortion without notifying either of her parents, as required under Texas law. A minor may get a judge to waive the requirement if she can show that she is "mature and sufficiently well-informed" to make the decision alone (or to prevent abuse, which was not an issue).
"Mature" and "well-informed" are not terms of mathematical precision, leaving some room for interpretation. But after hearing her testify, a trial court judge ruled that the girl was not sufficiently well-informed. An appeals court reached the same conclusion. Without the benefit of face-to-face contact with the girl, the Texas Supreme Court overruled them.
There is no "judicial activism" in respecting the findings of a trial court judge, as Owen did. Nor is there anything startling in her view that the law was not supposed to make waivers automatic. In fact, during the legislative debate back in 1999, supporters of the proposal envisioned the bypass mainly for instances of incest and physical abuse. (Chicago Tribune)
But Democrats went along with the narrative that she was a judicial activist, even though the American Bar Association deemed her "well-qualified." She was eventually confirmed after a nasty fight.
Then there was Janice Rogers Brown, who was nominated for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Again, civil rights groups dug up some of her decisions, such as her ruling on a court case involving racial slurs in the workplace, housing discrimination, workers' rights, and affirmative action. Like Owen, however, Brown was confirmed in 2005.
"In 2003...they sought to stop their nominations," Roy remembered. "Their great crimes? They were conservative women. And in one case, a minority conservative woman."
I was a lawyer on the @senjudiciary for 5-years. One of the issues I worked on was nominations.— Rep. Chip Roy (@RepChipRoy) September 28, 2020
You want an inside look at the @SenateDems playbook to tarnish GOP nominees?
Here are 4 stories you need to know. pic.twitter.com/q5VOKwtnCs
"We can't have that," Roy sarcastically added. "Can't have those dastardly Republicans appointing someone who doesn't fit the narrative by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle."
He likely won't be surprised when Democrats tear down Judge Barrett on the stand. They've already begun questioning her Catholic faith. She will report for her confirmation hearings starting October 12.