Controversial Judge Priscilla Owen approved for seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The U.S. Senate voted 55-43 to approve Priscilla Owen, a long-debated judicial candidate for the appellate bench. The candidate was praised and congratulated by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, but called an extremist by Democrat Charles Schumer of New York.

The approval comes mere days after the resolution of recent issues about filibuster rules by the Senate, in which it was agreed that the filibuster rules should not be changed, but that it should be used only in "extraordinary circumstances."

Schumer described the Texas judge as someone "...who puts the rights of employers over employees, who takes no consideration of environmental rights, women's rights or of just average people."

Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia surprised some by voting for Judge Owen. "I voted four times previously not to invoke cloture on Priscilla Owen, because I respected the right of the Senate to hear further debate," Mr. Byrd stated. "Having examined these aspects [of her judicial philosophy], as well as her prior record as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, I shall vote in support of her nomination."

Supporters describe her as a no-nonsense, consistent conservative that has served well as a state judge.

Judge Priscilla Owen's nomination had been subject to filibuster since her initial nomination four years ago. The ending of the filibuster debate allowed her nomination to move forward to a vote. Two other controversial nominees, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, are also expected to come to a vote under the terms of the compromise deal.