Thanks to nuclear option, Senate Dems confirm radical judge

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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She’s the kind of nominee the Democrats went nuclear for.

Cornelia “Nina” Pillard  was confirmed by a 51-44 vote in the U.S. Senate in the middle of the night last night, as a judge on the powerful D.C. Circuit court. Prior to the nuclear option, she would have been (justifiably) filibustered and blocked.

Her views on a myriad of subjects are clearly outside the mainstream. Consider, for example, Pillard’s thoughts on abortion. This is from 2007:  “Casting reproductive rights in terms of equality holds promise to recenter the debate…away from the deceptive images of fetus-as-autonomous-being that the anti-choice movement has popularized…” (Bold mine.) (page 990)

This suggests a sort of anti-science view that is especially worrisome when found in someone who is supposed to put facts (and the law) ahead of political ideology. It’s a position that’s meant to serve her political theory, but flies in the face of science. Sonograms, of course, have changed the game. People put these pictures on their Facebook wall precisely because it’s very obviously their child. Nothing else quite captures her doctrinaire rigidity better than this statement.)

She went on to argue that limiting abortion “reinforces broader patterns of discrimination against women as a class of presumptive breeders…” (p.975) and that abortion rights “play a central role in freeing women from historically routine conscription into maternity.” (p. 945)

Perhaps the most alarming thing I’ve read of Pillard’s was called “The Human Right of Sex Equality at the Work-Family Fault Line.” It’s an academic paper, so many of the opinions are couched in jargon and footnotes. But in reading it, it’s very clear that Pillard believes progressives should strategically cast all of their agenda wishes in terms of “rights,” rather than needs.

Here’s an excerpt from page 359:

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In a footnote on that same page, she notes that “Alex Aleinikoff asserts that ‘for progressives… the rights tradition of the U.S. Constitution has just about run out’ but he sees promise in international human rights as a potential source of social rights in the United States.” (This quote is obviously not attributable to Pillard, but she is using it to buttress her case.)

On the issue of religious freedom, Pillard is predictably terrible — having argued churches don’t have the right to determine for themselves what qualifies as a minister — something judges have recognized as an inherent right under the First Amendment since our founding.

As Ed Whelan noted,”In a September 2011 press briefing for Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute,”

“Pillard discussed the then-pending (and soon-to-be-argued) case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC. Among other things, Pillard (according to her prepared text) said that the case ‘strikes [her] as a strong case for the employee’ and that “the big news will be if the Court decides it for the Church.” She labeled the Lutheran Church’s position “a substantial threat to the American rule of law.”

Whelan then added that “the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the church entity. So that’s further confirmation that Pillard is well to the left of all nine justices. ”

Pillard is now sitting snugly on the D.C. Circuit, the second highest court in the land, and the court most involved in protecting/advancing Obama’s agenda. As the HuffPost noted, “The court is crucial because it rules on White House and federal agency actions. Senate approval of Millett and Pillard — and soon, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins — to fill the open seats will be a major victory for Obama because it will tilt that panel of judges heavily in his direction.”

The only good news for conservative? Vulnerable Democratic Senators like Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu are now on the record as supporting Pillard’s radical agenda. (And I guess the question over whether Bob Casey, Jr. was ever really pro-Life has been settled.)

But really, anyone who supported the nuclear option is responsible.