California Coalition for Civil Rights Asks Feinstein to Oppose Honaker

The California Coalition for Civil Rights sent Sen. Feinstein a letter yesterday asking her to oppose Richard Honaker’s nomination:

As one of only three district court judges in Wyoming, Mr. Honaker would wield considerable power over the people of the state if confirmed. He would also be eligible to sit by designation on the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Mr. Honaker’s work and writings cast doubt upon his ability to set aside his personal beliefs in order to respect established legal principles and the dictates of higher federal courts. His refusal to tender records of his legislative work shows disdain for transparency in government and disrespect for the Senate’s important role in the “advice and consent” process. Because Mr. Honaker has failed to demonstrate that he will respect the legal principles important to all Californians, and indeed, all Americans, we urge you to reject his nomination.

Read the full letter below:

February 20, 2008

Dear Senator Feinstein:

On behalf of the California Coalition for Civil Rights and the millions of Californians who care about justice, civil rights, and a woman’s right to choose, we strongly urge you to reject the nomination of Richard H. Honaker for the District Court for the District of Wyoming.

The California Coalition for Civil Rights (CaCCR) is a statewide alliance of 47 civil rights organizations, made up of activists, educators, lawyers, and advocates who are dedicated to achieving a just and healthy society. Established in 1985, CACCR is one of the oldest civil rights alliances in California.

Our Coalition includes groups that work specifically on issues related to maintaining a fair and independent judiciary, as well as groups that focus on protecting women’s reproductive freedom. Accordingly, we strongly oppose the nomination of Mr. Honaker as District Court Judge. Mr. Honaker has dedicated much of his career to undermining a women’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom and has readily expressed his ambition to overturn Roe v. Wade. Further, his public statements and actions have shown a complete disregard for Supreme Court precedent, as well as a troubling inability to separate his religious beliefs from his duty to respect the rule of law. As the chair of Mr. Honaker’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 12, 2008, you gave him an opportunity to explain his record, and he responded by dodging your questions and reciting platitudes. Based on his failure to demonstrate a genuine respect for precedent and a commitment to equal justice under law, we urge you to oppose elevating him a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

As a Wyoming legislator, Mr. Honaker zealously pushed legislation that flouted the mandates of Roe v. Wade. In 1991, Honaker wrote and was the chief sponsor of the “Human Life Protection Act,” which criminalized abortions even if the health of a woman was at stake-in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe. The proposed legislation allowed abortions only if the woman’s life was in danger, or in the event of rape or incest, but then only if the crime had been reported within five days. The bill’s legislative findings, authored by Mr. Honaker, further defied Roe:

· “It is a medical and scientific fact that the life of each individual human being begins at the moment of conception.”

· “This state has a compelling interest in protecting the lives of unborn children throughout pregnancy.”

· “Unborn children are human beings, and abortion is the taking of the life of an unborn child who is a member of the human race.”

Mr. Honaker’s support of this harsh and unconstitutional legislation went far beyond his initial sponsorship. When the Wyoming legislature rejected his extreme views and defeated the bill, Mr. Honaker reintroduced it the next year. When it was rejected yet again by the state legislature, Mr. Honaker joined forces with the Unseen Hands Prayer Circle, whose sole purpose was to place the bill on the ballot as a statewide initiative in 1994. The group, led by Mr. Honaker, was successful in placing the referendum on the ballot, but the initiative was reject by the people of Wyoming, failing to garner even forty percent of the popular vote. Though Mr. Honaker served in the state legislature for several terms, little else is known about his work there, and the state does not maintain substantial legislative records. Though Mr. Honaker may himself maintain copies of this information, the questionnaire he returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee upon his nomination included no documentation of his record as a legislator.

In addition to Mr. Honaker’s extreme anti-choice views, his disturbing philosophy about the role religion should play in American law further calls into question his ability to respect precedent when it conflicts with his own personal opinions. In his published writings on the topic, he has stated:

· “I came to know that if the Bible is true, if Christianity is true, then it is true in family life. It is true in economics. It is true in law, and it is true in all facets of human endeavor.”

· “The secularists have successfully banished Christians from law, politics, and government, and they won’t want to let them back in…. Christians are fair game.”

· “It doesn’t take a legal scholar to perceive that the nation’s highest court, its universities and law schools, its political institutions, and its news media, have moved racially [sic] away from a Christian based toward a secular base in which man, not God, is the creator of values, of rights, of law, and of justice.

· “Autonomy is the new secular religion sanctioned by The United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court no longer talks about America as a Christian nation or about the Christian underpinnings of the law. In moving even beyond the pale of neutrality, it openly advances the idea of autonomy, stating that “personal dignity and autonomy are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

· “The idea of neutrality relied upon the myth that law and government can function without relying upon shared moral premised [sic]. The upshot of neutrality was that some moral premises could be considered in the formulation of law and policy, but that Christian moral premises could not.”

As one of only three district court judges in Wyoming, Mr. Honaker would wield considerable power over the people of the state if confirmed. He would also be eligible to sit by designation on the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Mr. Honaker’s work and writings cast doubt upon his ability to set aside his personal beliefs in order to respect established legal principles and the dictates of higher federal courts. His refusal to tender records of his legislative work shows disdain for transparency in government and disrespect for the Senate’s important role in the “advice and consent” process. Because Mr. Honaker has failed to demonstrate that he will respect the legal principles important to all Californians, and indeed, all Americans, we urge you to reject his nomination.

Sincerely,

/s/ Jamienne S. Studley, Co-Chair
/s/ Malcolm Yeung, Co-Chair

Coalition Members Include:
AIDS Legal Referral Panel
Alliance for Justice
Asian Law Caucus
California Association of Human Relations Organizations
Californians for Justice
Californians for a Fair and Independent Judiciary
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Partnership
California Women’s Agenda
Centro Legal De La Raza
Charles Houston Bar Association
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Coalition for Economic Equity
Community United Against Violence
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Equal Justice Society
Greenlining Institute
Housing Rights, Inc.
San Francisco Human Rights Commission
Impact Fund
La Raza Centro Legal
Law Center for Families
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
NARAL-Pro Choice California
National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Youth Law
National Health Law Program
National Latina/o Law Student Association
National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Online Policy Group
Public Advocates, Inc.
Rainbow-PUSH
San Francisco Black Firefighters Inc.
Transgender Law Center

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s