Washington D.C., Dec 19, 2013 / 12:08 am (CNA).- The confirmation of Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to the D.C. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has prompted concerns from critics worried about her “radical” views on abortion and religious freedom.
Ed Whelan, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics and Public Policy Center and former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, criticized Pillard’s “manifest extremism on abortion” and “extremism against religious liberty.”
Whelan offered reflections on Pillard’s confirmation in two Dec. 13 posts at “Bench Memos” for National Review Online.
He pointed to the fact “that three reputedly moderate Democrats voted against the Pillard’s nomination,” saying that this is a testament to her extreme views.
However, these votes against her also deal “a severe blow” to any “ambitions that Pillard might have had to use the D.C. Circuit as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Pillard, a Georgetown University law professor, has won several significant arguments, opening Virginia Military Institute to women and securing the constitutionality of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
However, she also has a record of advocating strongly for an unqualified right to access abortion and contraception, against the ability to teach abstinence education.
In a 2007 piece entitled “Our Other Reproductive Choices: Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access, and Work-Family,” Pillard argued that the promotion of abstinence education and restrictions on abortion are unconstitutional and “at odds with equal protection” clauses.
Her views have also sparked religious freedom concerns. When presenting a 2011 briefing on the then-upcoming 2011-2012 Supreme Court cases, Pillard opposed a ruling in favor of a Lutheran school’s right to hire and fire its own religious employees, saying that it was “a substantial threat to the American rule of law.”
When the Supreme Court decided the case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC, it sided with the Lutheran school in a rare unanimous decision.
In September, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, said in a testimony before the committee that additional judges in the court were unnecessary, in part because the D.C. Circuit has the lowest number of total appeals filed annually among all the circuit courts of appeals.
He added that a judge currently on the D.C. Circuit Court had told him that if “any more judges were added now, there wouldn’t be enough work to go around.”
Rather than responding to a legitimate need for more judges, Grassley voiced concern that (Read More)