December 03, 2019
Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today highlighted concerns with Sarah Pitlyk, President Trump’s nominees to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Video of the remarks is available here.
“I rise today in opposition to the nomination of Sarah Pitlyk to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Ms. Pitlyk’s record is extremely troubling and raises a number of questions about her ability to be a fair and impartial judge.
Ms. Pitlyk was deemed by the American Bar Association to be “not qualified.” One of only 3 percent of people reviewed by the bar over the past three years. This is the first that I’ve had occasion to review in total.
A district court judge must hit the ground running. Ms. Pitlyk’s lack of practical knowledge and experience would significantly disadvantage the litigants appearing before her.
I also want to acknowledge the highly unusual nature of a “not qualified” rating by the bar. Ninety-seven percent of President Trump’s nominees have been rated at least “qualified” by the American Bar Association. This means that Ms. Pitlyk falls in the small minority – just 3 percent – of candidates deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. This shows just how rare that rating is.
The ABA has been reviewing the qualifications, as you well know, of judicial nominees since 1989. They know what they are doing and those of us on the committee take their evaluations very seriously.
Next, I want to discuss Ms. Pitlyk’s record opposing women’s reproductive rights and limiting access to health care.
Ms. Pitlyk defended a state law banning abortion at six weeks, she opposed the Affordable Care Act’s coverage for contraception and she defended President Trump’s Title X gag rule.
The Trump administration’s Title X gag rule prohibits referrals for abortion care and imposes onerous construction requirements on abortion clinics, among other things.
The rule effectively pushed Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program, curtailing access to health care for millions of low income women and families.
Ms. Pitlyk has also filed multiple legal briefs containing misinformation. Last year, she argued without any credible evidence that “racism plays a profound role in the delivery of abortion services.”
In another case, Ms. Pitlyk claimed – again without evidence – that in vitro fertilization leads to “higher rates of birth defects, genetic disorders and other anomalies.”
I think it is disqualifying for any judicial nominee to make unfounded and unsupported claims, especially in a court of law.
Ms. Pitlyk has also made statements in her personal capacity opposing access to health care. Just last year, she called the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act “unprincipled.” And earlier this year, she said the Supreme Court’s reproductive health care cases have “gross defects.”
These statements and Ms. Pitlyk’s legal work raise serious concerns about her ability apply the Supreme Court’s important precedents fairly and impartially.
I’m troubled by Ms. Pitlyk’s record and lack of experience, and I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing her nomination.”
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