Feminist forum claims women's rights at stake in court nominations

.- Feminists at a forum Monday said they would fight President George Bush’s nomination of a “strict constructionist” judge to the Supreme Court, claiming that such a judge could jeopardize access to abortion and contraception.

Jocelyn Frye, director of legal and public policy at the National Partnership for Women and Families, also claimed such a judge could jeopardize other legislation affecting women in the areas of affirmative action, protection from sex discrimination, family and medical leave, and quality health care.

Ms. Magazine hosted the July 11 forum at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. It took the opportunity to highlight a special report in its latest issue, entitled "What's at Stake for Us? The Looming Fight Over the Supreme Court."

Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute, noted that Bush already said he intended to appoint strict constructionist judges like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Such a judge would likely reject a Constitutional right to privacy, she claimed. The president, she said, needs to nominate a justice similar to outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

O’Connor is recognized by feminists for having voted in key cases involving affirmative action, family and medical leave, and sex discrimination.

Delores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, was also on the panel. Huerta, who identified herself as a "Catholic mother of 11 who is pro-choice," argued that teenage Hispanics women were in particular need of "reproductive rights" because they experience one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancies. She suggested that the Catholic Church’s teachings about abstinence are not effective.

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