Senate Confirms Robert Wilkins to DC Circuit Court of Appeals
The Senate confirmed United States District Judge Robert Wilkins to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia yesterday with a vote of 55-43. Wilkins has worked as both a public defender and a private attorney and has served on the US District Court for the District of Columbia since 2011.
"In 2010, I nominated Judge Wilkins to the US District Court for the District of Columbia, and since being confirmed without opposition by the Senate to that position, he has applied the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity," President Obama said in a statement. "I am confident that he will continue to do so on the D.C. Circuit."
This was the second attempt to have Wilkins confirmed to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after Senate Republicans blocked his nomination two months ago. After Republican blocked several other qualified women nominees as well, Senate Democrats, led by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), moved to change the rules. The Senate voted 52-48 in November to change the filibuster rules to require a simple majority - rather than 60 votes - to end debate on presidential nominees to the executive branch and the federal bench, with the exception of nominees to the US Supreme Court, making it harder for Republicans to block qualified nominees for political gain.
Wilkins is now the fourth confirmed nominee of Obama's to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful court in the nation after the Supreme Court. Obama says the court now has a "full bench to render justice fairly and swiftly."
Media Resources: The White House Office of the Press Secretary 1/13/14; Reuters 1/13/14; Feminist Newswire 11/12/13, 11/21/13, 12/12/13
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .