Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee may finally be welcoming some women to their ranks.
As the new Congress is officially seated this week, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa could be the first Republican women to serve on the Committee, according to Politico.
While the committee appointments weren’t yet finalized, according to a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, adding the women to the Judiciary Committee roster would serve to silence criticism about the appearance of an all-male group of Republicans.
“Everyone knows Republicans need women on Judiciary,” Marilyn Musgrave, Susan B. Anthony List vice president, said. “It will take away the critics asking, ‘Where are the women?'”
The issue became a point of contention during Committee hearings that focused on testimony from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford. While Democrats had four women on the Judiciary Committee, including ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Republicans ended up hiring a female outside prosecutor for the questioning.
“Having a woman Republican senator would have really helped with the Kavanaugh hearing and some of the pushback we saw,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said. “It was really unfortunate that the hearing fell right into the narrative the other side was trying to paint, that pro-lifers are all men and are anti-woman, which is just not true.”
Though conservatives applaud the choice of the vocally pro-life lawmakers, pro-abortion advocates clearly do not see the women’s appointments positively. Freshman Sen. Blackburn, who served eight terms in the House, is a staunch pro-life advocate and lead a special House panel which investigated charges against Planned Parenthood.
Up for reelection in 2020, Ernst has also been vocally anti-abortion, authoring legislation in 2017 to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The inclusion of Blackburn and Ernst, who do not hold any law degree, to the Judiciary Committee would be welcomed by conservatives to change the optics for Republicans.. But critics think it will take more than the appointment of the two women to the powerful committee to change the GOP image.
“Just because a woman serves in a particular role doesn’t mean that person exemplifies values that are going to be best for women and families in this country,” Adrienne Kimmell, vice president of communications and strategic research for the abortion rights group NARAL, told Politico.
Twitter users also weighed in on the appointments, with the predictable critics on the left sounding the alarm over the conservative senators.
Real comforting to know these religious nuts with zero experience actually helping people will be confirming people who will twist laws to their extremist bent. Barf.
— LJ Hutchinsuch (@Cleft_Music) January 3, 2019
Is that supposed to be comforting?
— Cherrylann St.John (@csstjohn) January 3, 2019
Ugh! Blackburn on Judiciary Cmte is horrible news. She’s unapologetic trumper with no soul. It’s bad enough she’s now a senator. Heaven help us that she’ll have a say in Judiciary Cmte business, including moving forward on removing Trump from office once he’s impeached by House.
— Jeri Finke (@JeriFinke) January 2, 2019
Many others, however, welcomed the news.
Huge news that @VoteMarsha will be serving on Senate Judiciary. First woman to serve our state in the US Senate and now the first GOP woman to serve on Senate Judiciary committee. #brokenceilings Congrats, @VoteMarsha!
— Matt Russell (@MattKRussell) January 3, 2019
— KAG (@IWiIlkaga) January 2, 2019
4 of my 5 favorite Senators are gonna be on the Judiciary Committee now. It’s lit. pic.twitter.com/35VAlP6kBw
— Eric Wagner (@NotEricWagner) January 3, 2019
This is great news: Blackburn, Ernst become first GOP women to serve on Senate Judiciary https://t.co/oXmpyGd68b
— Garrett Ventry (@GarrettVentry) January 2, 2019
We need them there. Great news!
— K J Gillenwater (@kjgillenwater) January 2, 2019
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