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Friday, July 01, 2005

Potential Nominee Profile -- Judge Priscilla R. Owen

Candidates > Others | Posted by Brian Fletcher at 12:01 PM

Brief biography

Judge Owen currently sits on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was confirmed on May 25, 2005 (She was first nominated by President Bush in 2002 but voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was re-nominated in 2003 and that nomination was filibustered until last month's agreement between Senate Republicans and Democrats).

Before being appointed to the Fifth Circuit, Judge Owen was a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. She was first elected in 1994 and re-elected in 2000. Before joining the court, she was a partner in the litigation department of the Houston office of Andrews & Kurth. She had been with the firm since graduating from law school.

Judge Owen attended Baylor University and Baylor Law School, graduating in 1977. Judge Owen is 50 years old.

Relevant links

Her DOJ profile is here. The Christian Science Monitor has a good profile of Judge Owen here. Salon.com has a profile calling Judge Owen "the woman who could detonate the 'nuclear option.'" This Washington Times piece includes some biographical information and a description of Judge Owen's nomination fight. Newsweek has a good profile here.

The Alliance for Justice's report criticizing Judge Owen is here. AFJ also has links to more resources, including a list of groups that officially opposed her nomination. NOW's report, including a summary of some of Judge Owen's controversial stances, is available here. NARAL has this similar report. This report from PFAW argues that the Senate Judiciary Committee was right to vote down Judge Owen's nomination in 2002.

Senator John Cornyn has this column in the National Review supporting Judge Owen's nomination. C. Boyden Gray has a report at TraditionalValues.org praising Judge Owen as a "Restrained, Principled Jurist." This National Review piece calls the Democrats' attack on Judge Owen "dishonest." Focus on the Family writes that "A Better Judge Would be Hard to Find." Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's floor speech in favor of Judge Owen's nomination is here.

Selected notable opinions

The Texas Supreme Court does not hear criminal cases; Judge Owen's most controversial opinions have been in abortion and business cases.

In re Doe, 19 S.W.3d 346 (TEx. 2000). Judge Owen dissented from the court's decision granting a woman's request for a judicial bypass of Texax's parental notification requirement for abortions. Her strongly-worded opinion has received a great deal of attention, as has the concurring opinion by then-Justice Alberto Gonzales, who called the position advocated by Judge Owen and other dissenters "an unconscionable act of judicial activism."

GTE Southwest, Inc. v. Bruce, 998 S.W.2d 605 (Tex. 1999). In this suit by three workers for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Judge Owen wrote a separate opinion concurring in the judgment but emphasize her disagreement with the majority's characterization of the evidence in support of the jury verdict.

Hyundai Motor Co. v. Alvarado, 974 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. 1998). In this products liability case arising from a car accident, Judge Owen wrote a dissenting opinion that would have read a federal auto safety law as preempting state common law claims for negligence.

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