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Gonzales nomination angers abortion foes

CNN | November 12 2004

Related: Architect of Abu Ghraib Torture is Bush's Pick for Attorney General

Related: Who is Alberto Gonzales?

(CNN) -- An anti-abortion group Thursday accused President Bush of ignoring his anti-abortion principles in nominating White House counsel Alberto Gonzales for the post of attorney general.

"As a Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales' rulings implied he does not view abortion as a heinous crime," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, in a written statement.

Bush announced Wednesday that he had chosen his long-time friend to replace Attorney General John Ashcroft, who is stepping down. (Bush picks Gonzales to head Justice Department)

Gonzales has worked with Bush since he was the governor of Texas -- serving as Bush's general counsel, then as Texas Secretary of State before Bush appointed him to the state's highest court. (Gonzales political fortunes tied to Bush's)

As a member of the court, Gonzales ruled with the majority that some teenage girls should not be required to get parental permission for an abortion.

In his opinion on the ruling, Gonzales wrote, "While the ramifications of such a law may be personally troubling to me as a parent, it is my obligation as a judge to impartially apply the laws of this state without imposing my moral view on the decisions of the legislature."

Brown said that "choosing not to rule against abortion, in any situation, is the epitome of denying justice for an entire segment of the American population -- pre-born babies in the womb."

She also cited a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times in which Gonzales was asked whether his personal view of abortion would play a role in his vetting of judges.

He responded, "There are no litmus tests for judicial candidates. ... My own personal feelings about (abortion) don't matter. ... The question is, what is the law, what is the precedent, what is binding in rendering your decision. Sometimes, interpreting a statute, you may have to uphold a statute that you may find personally offensive. But as a judge, that's your job."

Said Brown, "Gonzales' position is clear: The personhood of the pre-born human being is secondary to technical points of law, and that is a deadly perspective for anyone to take. ...

"Why is President Bush betraying the babies? Justice begins with protecting the most vulnerable in our midst. Please, Mr. President -- just say no to the unjust views of Alberto Gonzales."

But the stance of anti-abortion groups was not uniform. The president of Operation Rescue, based in Sacramento, California, said he had not yet formed an opinion on the nomination.

"I'm still studying it," said Troy Newman. "I know he's not the strongest advocate for life."

"I'm glad he's not up for Supreme Court justice," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who runs the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington. "His feelings on abortion we're a little concerned about."

Gonzales has also been criticized by civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero issued a statement calling for a confirmation process "that scrutinizes Mr. Gonzales' positions on key civil liberties and human rights issues.

"Particular attention should be devoted to exploring Mr.Gonzales' proposed policies on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, the designation of United States citizens as enemy combatants and reproductive rights."

He also called for Gonzales to be asked about a May 16, 2004, memo, written as counsel to the White House, "which described certain legal protections guaranteed in the Geneva Conventions to persons captured during military hostilities as 'obsolete' and 'quaint.' "

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