Today, when not a single Republican senator supported the nomination of Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the GOP sent a very clear message: If you're a woman who has pushed for women to be treated equally, you're unfit for the federal bench.
In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick laid waste to the Republicans' attacks on Pillard as a "radical feminist."
But that's only half the story. Republican senators haven't just been clear about what they refuse to accept in a judge -- they've been equally straightforward about what they will accept in a judge.
If you make jokes about women getting pregnant via rape, that's no problem. Leon Holmes did that and was confirmed to a seat on Arkansas' district court with broad Republican support.
If you think that being gay is a reason to lose custody of your children, that's no obstacle either. Leslie Southwick was promoted to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after making that decision as a district court judge. Republicans, including moderates, rushed to support him.
If you think that it's totally acceptable to handcuff a prisoner to a hitching post in the hot sun for seven hours without water or bathroom breaks, step right up! William Pryor took that stance before Republicans rubber stamped his nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
But that's not all. You can practice without a license. You can spend a career pushing a right-wing agenda. You can amass a record of rulings extreme enough to get overturned over fifty times and belong to a club that prohibits women from becoming members.
In the eyes of the GOP, all of that is totally fine.
But, if you win an 8-1 Supreme Court decision defending the Family and Medical Leave Act in a case brought by the Bush administration, successfully argue that publicly funded state schools should be open to women as well as men, and have the temerity to believe that students in sex-ed classes shouldn't face double standards based on gender, you're too radical for our courts.
Too often we're told that judicial nominations fights are too complicated, too subtle to get major national attention. Not this time. The Republican message is crystal clear: rape-joke making, gay-bashing, abuse-defending, discrimination-supporting, law-skirting, ideology-pushing Republican men are welcome to be judges in our federal courts.
Women who expect to be treated as equals are not.
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