Senate Questions Pro-Life Judicial Nominee Richard Honaker on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 13, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Questions Pro-Life Judicial Nominee Richard Honaker on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 13,

Washington, DC ( — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on Wyoming pro-life advocate Richard Honaker for a federal district court judge post. Honaker told members of the committee he would not legislate from the bench but at least one pro-abortion member of the panel said his answers weren’t good enough.

Honaker, an attorney and former state legislator, received an appointment from President Bush to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Pro-abortion groups have fiercely opposed Honaker’s nomination because of his efforts to prohibit abortions in Wyoming.

He is known in pro-life circles for proposing the Human Life Protection Act in the state legislature in 1991 and was behind a subsequent state ballot vote in 1994. Voters defeated the ballot measure that year.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, most strongly questioned Honaker on abortion and his legislation to make abortion illegal in Wyoming.

According to an AP report, Honaker confirmed his legislation was an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade but he said his role as a legislator is “absolutely contrary” to the role a judge plays and promised he would not legislate from the bench.

“I recognize the right to privacy, and I recognize the precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” he said, in acknowledging that lower courts follow the lead of the nation’s highest. “That is the law of the land, and I would apply it."

AP indicated Feinstein was dissatisfied with his answer, saying “But if that’s your answer, so be it."

Wyoming’s senators appealed to the panel on Honaker’s behalf with Sen. Mike Enzi telling the committee he served with Honaker in the state legislature.

“Since the criteria is fairness, I want to assure you that Richard Honaker is one of the fairest people I know," he said.

Sen. John Barrasso told the committee Honaker is “eminently qualified."

The committee vote will come at a later date and, if he is approved, Honaker’s nomination will go to the full Senate for its consideration.

Honaker would fill the seat vacated by U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer, who is retiring and taking on senior status. A hearing on his nomination is expected on February 12.

He is a Harvard graduate with a law degree from the University of Wyoming. He has a private practice in the state and has been the head of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association and the Wyoming State Bar.

Right to Life of Wyoming strongly supports the Honaker nomination and has encouraged its members to support his confirmation in the Senate.

"The nomination of Richard Honaker is consistent with the kind of judges President Bush has appointed the to federal courts in the past. He’s someone who will uphold the rule of law and not engage in political advocacy from the bench," the group says.

"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," the group added.

ACTION: Contact your senator and urge support for Richard Honaker’s nomination by calling 202-224-3121 or going to