Democrats Want Senate Vote on Pro-Abortion Judicial Pick McConnell

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 3, 2011   |   6:06PM   |   Washington, DC

Senate Democrats want a vote soon on a pro-abortion activist President Barack Obama selected for a federal district court position in Rhode Island, Jack McConnell.

McConnell’s nomination to the District Court for the District of Rhode Island cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee recently on a party-line 11-7 vote and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing for a vote. Today, Reid filed a cloture petition to bring the nomination to the Senate floor over the filibuster objections of Republicans.

But pro-life advocates say McConnell is a pro-abortion stalwart who doesn’t deserve a place in the federal courts. In fact, McConnell disclosed in his public questionnaire that he was director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island from 1997 until 2001.

“Jack McConnell made multiple donations to EMILY’s List, a group whose sole purpose is to support pro-choice Democratic female candidates. According to OpenSecrets, Jack McConnell made a $1,000 donation to EMILY’s List in 2008 and another $1,000 donation in 2005,” says Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council. “McConnell’s close involvement with Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List would cloud his objectivity on abortion related cases.”

McClusky also says “McConnell’s view of law falls outside of the mainstream and indicates that he is incapable of being fair and impartial and would legislate from the bench.”

He has publicly written and endorsed his support for “an active government” that should not “stand on the sidelines” when it comes to pursuing his vision of a just result. He said of himself that “I am an emotional person about injustice at any level—personal, societal, global” and that there are wrongs that need to be righted, and that’s how I see the law.”

McConnell has also been given a low rating from the American Bar Association — with the group giving him a less than average rating of “substantial majority qualified, minority unqualified.”

“He is one of only four of 63 current judicial nominees to receive this lackluster rating, which almost necessarily means he generated negative comments from judges before whom he has appeared and from other lawyers who know him,” McClusky said. “For a practicing lawyer with 25 years of experience to obtain such a low rating speaks poorly of his legal abilities and suggests that his nomination is not about merit but is instead about being a highly-connected personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyer (and former state treasurer for the Rhode Island Democratic Party).”

On March 10, 2010, President Obama nominated McConnell to the bench. The Senate declined to act on McConnell’s nomination and twice returned it to Obama. Nonetheless, Obama re-nominated McConnell on January 5.

McConnell has also come under fire for massive contributions to current members of the Senate. Since 2001, the McConnells have given Reed $13,200, including $8,800 for his 2008 re-election campaign. He gave Senate Judiciary Committee members Al Franken, Charles Schumer $1000 each and sent $12,600 to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. In total, 16 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate has received donations from McConnell.

The totality of the concerns and many others on unrelated political issues, prompted the Wall Street Journal to issue an editorial saying McConnell isn’t worthy of a spot on the bench.

“Judicial vacancies are unfortunate, but the seat to which Jack McConnell has been nominated is not even among the 35 so-called federal judicial emergencies,” the editorial says. “Senators Whitehouse and Reed also didn’t mind keeping the same vacancy open when they helped to block President Bush’s nominee, Lincoln Almond, for two years. Mr. Almond never was confirmed.”

“Our view is that judicial nominees deserve a vote on the Senate floor, but Democrats and liberals shouldn’t be surprised if Republicans conclude that the only way to stop Democrats from filibustering GOP nominees is to do the same to President Obama’s,” the newspaper added.

The Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is also opposing McConnell’s nomination.

ACTION: Ask your senators at to oppose the McConnell nomination.