Senate moves to confirm Owen, a Sunday school teacher, as federal judge

.- The Senate started voting Wednesday to confirm Judge Priscilla Owen to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A day earlier, the Senate voted 81-18 to break the filibuster and move to confirmation of Owen as a federal judge.

The vote comes four years after President George W. Bush nominated Owen to fill the vacancy in the New Orleans-based federal court Bush has said he regards her as "a woman of integrity ... known to be a fair and impartial judge who strives to interpret the law fairly."

For the last four years, the Sunday school teacher and pro-life judge has been the center of attack by pro-abortion Democrats, even though she easily won two elections to Texas' highest civil appeals court in 1994 and 2000. In the 2000 Texas Supreme Court case regarding the state's parental notification law, Owen ruled to make it more difficult for minors to win judicial approval for an abortion without notifying their parents.

According to a report in the Associated Press, Owen was born in 1954 in Palacios, Texas, a small fishing and agriculture community on the Gulf of Mexico between Houston and Corpus Christi. Her father died of polio when she was 10 months old. Her mother remarried when she was 5, and they relocated to Waco, where her mother, two sisters and a brother still live. Her stepfather died in 1983.

She graduated at the top of her law school class at Baylor University in 1977. She had the highest score among those taking the bar exam, and began at the Houston law firm Andrews Kurth in 1978. She became partner in 1985. Her expertise was in oil and gas litigation.

According to the the Associated Press, court associates describe Owen as hardworking and analytical. Her opinions are personally written, and she heavily edits the drafts her staff writes.

Owen lives alone in Austin, where her life revolves around her job, caring for her mother and her dog. She serves on the board of Texas Hearing & Service Dogs, a group that rescues dogs and trains them to help people with hearing and mobility impairments.

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