Republicans are cackling because Sen. Mark Pryor was one of three Democrats who voted in the early morning hours Thursday to oppose President Obama’s nomination of Georgetown law professor Nina Pillard to the important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republican opponent Tom Cotton has made much of Pryor’s supposed approval of liberal judges — liberal to Republicans meaning anyone who diverges from the Roberts Conservative Majority’s pro-corporate, anti-woman agenda.


Stephens Media reports here on Pryor’s vote. Pryor is quoted as saying he doubted Pillard’s ability to be impartial.

The issue? Sex. Isn’t it always with Republicans?


Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, raised questions about her views on contraception, reproductive rights and gender equality. 

For Republicans — and, by proxy, Mark Pryor — judges must be ready to stand in the way of government support of birth control pills and condoms; facilitate obstacles to abortion in the name of religion and, above all, oppose equality under the law for women and sexual minorities. 

Pillard is viewed as a radical because she’s worked as an attorney for the ACLU. She labored in a case that allowed women to attend VMI (thus giving women the same treatment under law as men in Virginia) and also worked for giving equal workplace rights in Nevada to people with families. Think Progress details her record here.


An article she wrote about constitutional problems with some abstinence-only sex education is a particular flash point. She wrote:

Women, one abstinence-only curriculum teaches, need “financial support,” whereas men need “domestic support” and “admiration. Another maintains that “[w]omen gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments. Young women, according to a leading abstinence-only curriculum, “care less about achievement and their futures” than do their male peers. These curricula suggest that there are two tracks in sex and two tracks in life, one male, and one female?

To Republicans and groups like the Family Research Council that opposed Pillard, impartiality means support for second-class stature for women. In election year 2014, that apparently will be a benchmark for Mark Pryor, too. I don’t think it’s a good strategy. He can’t beat Tom Cotton without a broad gender gap among women voters. If you believe recent Republican polling, Cotton actually has a slight edge among women voters in Arkansas. Opposing people with a record as sparkling as Nina Pillard’s is no way to correct that.