Richard Honaker, President Bush’s latest radical nominee to the federal bench, is far outside the US mainstream when it comes to reproductive rights and freedoms. He’s devoted a good chunk of his career to fighting to deny women access to safe, legal reproductive-health services. He tried and failed to pass a state law banning abortion in Wyoming while serving in the Wyoming House of Reps–three times! He’s publicly stated that abortion is “wrong, and no one should have the right to do what is wrong.” No stare decisis for him–and certainly no open mind either.
Honaker seems much more activist than jurist given his public dismissals of the decisions of US District Court judges as unimportant and forgettable, an extremely troubling position, especially when held by a man on the south side of sixty nominated for a lifetime appointment to the District Court.
Not surprisingly, as the FeministLawProfessor blog reports, the leader of Wyoming Right to Life, Steven Ertelt, is giving Bush major props for the nomination, as evidenced by this statement: “Because of his pro-life views and past efforts to protect human life, it’s obvious that Richard Honaker joins with attorneys on both side of the abortion debate who understand that Roe v. Wade was an example of unadulterated judicial activism and that the role of the courts to is interpret the law — not make it up as you go.”
Moreover, beyond his documented hostility toward a woman’s constitutional right to choose, Honaker’s statements about how certain religious views should influence legal analysis call into question his ability to apply the law without prejudice and with appropriate respect for and deference to precedent. Specifically, Honaker advances a legal philosophy that elevates his personal view of Christianity over well-established constitutional and legal principles.
Honaker’s nomination could come before the Senate Judiciary Committee very soon. The Jackson Hole Star-Tribune recently reported that Honaker’s sponsor US Senator Mike Enzi is hopeful that his nominee will get an early 2008 hearing. Enzi has been in ongoing discussions about the nomination with the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, said Enzi’s press secretary, Elly Pickett.
Wyoming’s late senior senator, Craig Thomas, submitted Honaker’s name for the federal judicial post to the White House in January. President Bush nominated the Rock Springs, Wyoming attorney in March. If confirmed by the US Senate, Honaker would fill the vacancy created by the retirement of US District Judge Clarence Brimmer.