Nomination debate seen as a precursor to Supreme Court placements
Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen faced an expectedly tough round of questions yesterday as the federal appeals court nominee sat in an almost five-hour Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Owen was named in May 2001 to fill a vacancy on the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Since her nomination, she has been the target of liberal advocacy groups who paint her as a pro-life advocate who makes law instead of interpreting it.

"I truly believe that the picture that some special interest groups have painted of me is wrong," she said. "If I am confirmed, I will do my utmost to apply the statutes you have written as you have written them, not as I would have written them or others might want me to interpret them."

The fight over Owen's nomination has become part of a struggle between President Bush and the Democrat-controlled Senate over the makeup of the federal courts. In fact, the current nomination hearings—Charles Pickering was rejected in March—are considered to be forerunners to fights over Supreme Court nominations that Bush probably will make during his term.

Contention over Owen's nomination has focused on her history of rulings on abortion. Most criticism originates from Owen's decisions to deny exemption to teen girls from a Texas law that requires parental notification before an abortion. Court approval is dependent on proving that abuse is possible, that the minor is well-informed, and the abortion is in her best interest. In a 2000 case, Owen dissented from the majority saying a girl was not fully aware of abortion alternatives.

"It is ridiculous the way her opponents characterize her opinions as anti- or pro-abortion," ...

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