Alito waffling destroys Snoweís pro-choice reputation
January 23, 2006
FARMINGTON (Maine) - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright said Sunday that Olympia Snoweís indecision about her vote on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court has destroyed her long-standing reputation as a pro-choice politician.

"Look at the millions of dollars being spent on ads and organized persuasion, on both sides of the Judge Alito issue, to convince Olympia Snowe to vote one way or the other," Hay Bright, said in remarks to the Franklin County Democratic Committee on the University of Maine Farmington campus.

"If Olympia Snowe were adamantly pro-choice, as her reputation claims, she would not be on the fence. Her vote would not be up for grabs, as it apparently is, over the confirmation of a judge who has a written and public record of opposition to Roe v. Wade."

Hay Bright, author, political activist and organic farmer, was endorsed by NOW in her 1996 primary run for U.S. Senate in Maine, in part because of her pro-choice activism going back decades.

Hay Bright said Snoweís waffling on such an important nomination is just the latest in her trend to confirm anti-choice judges.

"After getting a lot of attention last year for being one of the ëGang of 14í that stopped a filibuster on three anti-choice judges nominated to the federal bench, Sen. Snowe went ahead and voted to confirm two of those three, Janice Rogers Brown of California and Priscilla Owen of Texas. No adamantly pro-choice politician would have voted to confirm those anti-choice judges," Hay Bright said.

Furthermore, Hay Bright pointed out Olympia Snowe voted to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, even though several womenís organizations which had supported her for years had come out against his confirmation.

Hay Bright has spoken out publicly against the confirmation of Judge Alito, not only because of his refusal to state that Roe is "settled law," but also because of his apparent support for unlimited presidential powers ñ and because he lied on his job application during the Reagan administration.

"Either he lied on his federal application that he was a member of that Princeton club when he wasnít a member, or he lied when he said he didnít remember having been a member," she said. "Weíve had enough lying in Washington."

In her remarks Sunday Hay Bright said that Snowe, despite her reputation, is not a moderate.

"She lost claims to that moderate label years ago. She voted for the Iraq War resolution, for the Patriot Act, for the Nuclear Bunker Buster Program. She voted to deny habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees. In one ranking she voted favorably on Peace Action issues 13 percent of the time in 2004, which was a great improvement over 2003, when she got a zero rating. Thatís not moderate."

Hay Bright said Olympia Snoweís recent votes do not reflect Maine values.

"If she did reflect Maine values, she would have voted last fall to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 an hour, knowing full-well that Maineís minimum is already $6.50 an hour. But she voted NO, and in the process Olympia Snowe voted to put Maine small businesses at a disadvantage with their competitors in those states who can continue to legally pay sub-poverty-level wages."

Another Maine value Olympia Snowe does not bring to Washington, Hay Bright said, is the recognition that government has a responsibility for the health care of its citizens.

"Maine has Dirigo Health. The Republicans dismiss national health care as socialism, even though we are the only industrialized nation without such a system. Republicans tout ëmarket forcesí as the solution, a solution which leaves 43 million American out in the cold, and auto workers by the thousands unemployed. Republicans pass a confusing Medicare Part D plan involving dozens of insurance companies that has left seniors reeling, and state governments scrambling to keep their citizens alive and well while the kinks are worked out."

"Not surprisingly," Hay Bright continued, "Olympia Snowe has tons of campaign contributions from insurance companies and drug companies. And credit card companies. That may explain why she voted for the draconian bankruptcy bill last year, knowing full well that half of those bankruptcies were the result of overwhelming medical bills."

Olympia Snowe is also losing her credentials on civil rights, Hay Bright said.

"In her speech at the NAACP Martin Luther King breakfast in Portland last Monday, she publicly lamented the income disparity in this country, the wide gap between the haves and the have-nots, as Hurricane Katrina so forcefully demonstrated. Her solution? She will work hard to make sure Katrina victims can get small business loans. Quite an offer to people with no homes, no jobs, no businesses left standing."

"Combine that with her vote against a minimum wage increase, and her votes in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy, and what have you got? Youíve got straight-line hypocritical Republican thinking, and it left those of us in the audience at that Martin Luther King breakfast gasping."

Hay Bright pointed out that Olympia Snowe has been in office, state and federal, for more than 30 years.

'Youíd think that someone with that much seniority, that much respect, that much power as a member of the majority party in Washington ñ youíd think that a Senator with that kind of standing would be able to finagle some home heating assistance money for Maineís poor and elderly before the winter is half over."

Because of the cutback in federal funding, the Maine State Legislature early in January voted to add $5 million to its Low Income Home Heating Assistance (LIHEAP) program, to assure that Maineís poor and elderly did not go without heat this winter.