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National NOW Times >> Summer 2002 >> Article

Blocking Conservative Judges Key to Protecting Roe v. Wade

Senate Has Power to Stop Radical Right Bush Nominees

by Monica Martinez, Field Organizer

NOW's Campaign to Protect and Advance Roe launched a second phase on March 8, as activists throughout the country took part in "mock filibusters" to secure pledges from senators that they will filibuster any Supreme Court nominee who does not support Roe v. Wade.

Arizona NOW activists participated in a mock 'filibuster' at offices of Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain. Organized by East Valley, Phoenix/Scottsdale and Sun Cities/West Valley NOW chapters, the action drew attention from rush-hour traffic. NOW chapters across the United States sent a clear message to the Senate and the administration that they will not permit women's hard-earned reproductive rights to be rolled back. The action — which was announced in the last issue of the NOW Times — was also designed to raise awareness in the community and the media about the uncertain fate of reproductive freedom, not only in the Supreme Court, but also in the district and appellate courts.

As part of the action, NOW activists met with senators in their home offices and presented them with personal testimony and information about the need for contraception and abortion. That testimony was collected during the Jan. 22 speak-outs, which kicked off the campaign.

In addition, chapter members organized other activities, including writing letters to senators, demonstrating outside the offices of hostile senators and distributing information to the public.

NOW also demanded an investigation of Bush's nominee for U.S. Attorney in New Orleans, Frederick Heebe, after two women alleged abuse. Not long after NOW activists protested outside a Mardi Gras party for Louisiana bigwigs in Washington, D.C., Bush withdrew the nomination. NOW states and chapters of all sizes and from all parts of the country held meetings at their senators' offices or organized other "filibuster" actions. Senators in places as varied as Albuquerque, N.M., Gainesville, Fla., Lawrence and Wichita, Kan., New York, N.Y., Rapid City, S.D., Charlotte, N.C., and more heard from our activists. See NOW Acts for more details on some of these March 8 actions.

"NOW activists everywhere recognize the importance of impartial judges who will uphold the laws of this country, not activist judges committed to an ultra-conservative, right wing agenda," said NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives. "We also understand the importance of having senators who recognize Bush's blatant attempt to stack the courts with right wing ideologues, and who are willing to stop these nominees in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor."

Although no Supreme Court justice has announced an impending retirement, a sense of urgency pervades the campaign because it is widely speculated that, since more than seven years have passed without a vacancy, George W. Bush will have the opportunity to nominate at least one justice, and perhaps several. Bush has been open about expressing his anti-abortion views, and there is every reason to believe that whomever he names to the Court will share his agenda.

Although limited and threatened, abortion is still legal in the U.S. However, the next Supreme Court justice could tip the tenuous balance keeping Roe v. Wade afloat. The Campaign to Protect and Advance Roe stems precisely from the recognition that abortion is already inaccessible to many women and that our reproductive rights are in peril.

Visit www.now.org to keep up-to-date on where your rights stand and how you can help in the fight for reproductive freedom.


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