Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mukasey, Abortion, and the Golden Venture

A surprising and fascinating development: Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey has run into opposition from anti-abortion advocates because of a judicial decision he made in a case involving a Golden Venture passenger.

As a federal judge, Mukasey denied asylum to a Golden Venture passenger who claimed he was fleeing China because of its coercive birth control policies. As the media has reported, the asylum seeker claimed that, in violation of a government mandate, his wife became pregnant with a third child, and that to avoid severe punishment, he put her into hiding and fled the country. He claimed that we would face severe punishment if he were sent back to China.

Mukasey ruled that asylum should not be granted because the case did not fall within the law's definition of a legitimate asylum claim.

Sadly, the asylum applicant's fear that he would face severe punishment in China was very real. In fact, at least one Golden Venture passenger who was sent back to China was forcibly sterilized. Others were fined and severely beaten.

The Mukasey connection to the Golden Venture started surfacing over the weekend, before the Bush's nomination was officially announced.

The first inkling came out in the Times in a Sunday piece, which mentioned Mukasey's abortion decision, without indicating that it involved a Golden Venture passenger. A day before, an anti abortion, Catholic advocacy group, Fidelis, came out with a statement opposing Mukasey, citing his decision in the Chinese coercive birth control case.

Just today, the New York Sun weighed in with an editorial endorsing Mukasey. Apparently the Sun did a bit of reporting and found out that the asylum case involved a Golden Venture case.

Mukasey's Golden Venture connection goes beyond this one case. He was also the judge in the Sister Ping trial -- the proceeding that ended with Mukasey handing Ping a maximum sentence of 35 years.

I wonder how Mukasey's thinking was influenced by what he learned while sitting on the Ping case? He heard all the gory details of that horrible voyage -- the suffering in the hold of ship that the passengers endured for three months.

And I wonder what Mukasey would say now if asked about his decision to send a Golden Venture passenger back to China -- and what his reaction would be if he were told that the same man was forcibly sterilized?

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