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Nebraska
If you remember my diary from October 4, you know the story of Nebraska judge Peter Bataillon. He's the Omaha trial court judge who denied a 16-year-old in the foster system her right to make the health care decisions that were right for her, in a matter that sure seemed to be motivated by the same biases which animated his decades of personal efforts on behalf of radical anti-choice activists.

Judge Bataillon seemed to have no intention of giving this young woman a fair trial – he told the young woman that an abortion would “kill the child inside” her. This is the same judge who, as a lawyer, spent his time representing Operation Rescue in court and leading Omaha's main right-to-life organization.

When conservatives complain about a judge "practicing politics from the bench," this is what they should be talking about.  A judge's duty is to apply the law, not to force his personal beliefs onto those in need of the law's assistance.

Well, I wasn't just going to write about it once and move on. I'm glad to be able to work with friends at NARAL Pro-Choice America and RH Reality Check to hold Judge Bataillon accountable.  As my friend Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, explained in a recent email blast:

Working with a local family-practice attorney named Sue Ellen Wall, we filed a complaint this morning with the Nebraska Supreme Court to call on it to investigate this case and sanction Judge Bataillon. I need your help to make sure this situation isn’t swept under the rug. Only a handful of judges ever receive a formal sanction, so I want to collect 30,000 petition signatures by midnight on Sunday to demand a review of his qualifications for office.

Please sign the petition.

Parental involvement laws like the one in Nebraska give power to judges to control women’s lives when a parent can't give permission. Of course, we all want our children to turn to us when they’re in trouble. But every family situation is different, and we need laws written to protect those who have nowhere else to turn.

Judge Bataillon should never have ruled on Emily’s case. He willingly imposed his personal views to deny a woman her constitutional right to an abortion.  

Now we must hold Judge Bataillon accountable for failing to remove himself from a case where he clearly has an anti-choice bias. If he gets off scot free, it sends a signal to anti-choice judges everywhere that they can operate unchecked and take away young women’s right to control their own bodies.

We have already passed 50,000 co-signers on our complaint before the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications, calling on them to sanction and hold Judge Bataillon accountable for putting his political beliefs above the rule of law and this young woman’s welfare. And the local media has noticed:
Lincoln attorney Sue Ellen Wall cited that comment, the subsequent ruling and Bataillon's history of involvement with anti-abortion groups in a complaint filed Wednesday with the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

“It appears clear beyond peradventure that Peter Bataillon sought to advance from the bench the same anti-choice interests he did during his personal crusades as a lawyer,” the complaint said. ...

NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said Bataillon's comment made clear he was not going to give the girl's arguments a fair hearing.

“Holding a young woman's life in your hands requires an unimpeachable respect for constitutional rights and an impartial ability to judge the case on its merits,” she said.

“This judge threw both of those principles out the window when his statements from the bench proved his desire to put his own personal beliefs above the welfare of the minor.”

You can be the next signer. Join us. Right now.

Originally posted to Adam B on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, Pro Choice, and This Week in the War on Women.

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