by Steven Ertelt
May 17, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates are setting off a firestorm of controversy as information is coming forward about their investigation into the backgrounds and financial records of potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
Syndicated columnist Bob Novak reports that, last week, the U.S. Judicial Conference in Washington received a request from a Mike Rice of Oakland, California, for the financial disclosure records of pro-life U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit.
Jones is often in the short list of names of possible high court picks.
Rice and Craig Varoga, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, are partners in a California political consulting firm.
That means they normally do work for a client when it comes to politics. Their customer this time around? NARAL.
Not only did Rice look up information on Judge Jones, he asked for records pertaining to some 30 potential Supreme Court selections. According to Novak, Rice described himself to officials as a "public-records researcher" when asked about his need for the disclosure documents.
"Rice did not reveal he was acting as a paid agent of NARAL," Novak writes.
"Nobody can recall any previous mass request for such disclosures by federal judges," Novak explained. "This intelligence raid is financed by the abortion lobby, but it looks to Republicans like a front for Reid and other senators who will consider President Bush’s appointments for Supreme Court nominations."
But when he asked Reid about the fishing expedition, the Senate Democratic leader said he had no knowledge of it and thought it odd in light of the normal background checks undertaken by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Working for the leading abortion advocacy group, Varoga & Rice also looked into James Harvie Wilkinson, a 4th Circuit Appeals Court judge, Emilio Garza (5th Circuit), J. Michael Luttig (4th Circuit) and Samuel Alito (3rd Circuit). All are considered pro-life or willing to uphold pro-life legislation and all are on the short lists bandied about by Beltway insiders.
Novak says one unnamed judge whose records were requested felt that the investigation was a violation of his privacy and did not know the ultimate client was NARAL.
When asked about its records jaunt, NARAL president Nancy Keenan told Novak that her group is concerned about "out of touch theological activists" becoming judges.
She claimed the personal financial records might help her group identify the "character" of the judges who could be nominated to the nation’s top court.
Gary Bauer, a former presidential candidate and president of the Family Research Council, was outraged by the news.
"Anticipating a potential Supreme Court vacancy in the near future, [NARAL and Reid are] getting ready for a massive smear campaign," he said.
"I hope our side is taking this fight for control of the federal courts just as seriously as [NARAL] obviously does," he added. "We don’t need to stoop to its level – we just need to guarantee that the president’s nominees are treated fairly and receive an up or down vote on confirmation."