Even on the conservative, all-Republican bench that the State Supreme Court had become, Justice Owen occasionally stood out among her colleagues, sometimes in tandem with another justice, Nathan Hecht. In no situation was this more so than in cases involving the interpretation of a state law providing for a teenage girl to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents if she can show a court that she is mature enough to understand the consequences.
In one dissent, Justice Owen said the teenager in the case had not demonstrated that she knew that there were religious objections to abortion and that some women who underwent abortions had experienced severe remorse.
Mr. Gonzales, a Texas Supreme Court justice at the time, was in the majority and wrote that the position of the three dissenters was "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" because it would create obstacles to abortion that the Legislature did not enact.
Mr. Gonzales, in interviews with The New York Times, acknowledged that his words were directed at her dissent but said that he remained enthusiastic about her nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
But he has been repeatedly pressed by conservatives to declare that he did not mean her. Recently, he tried to distance himself from the remarks by telling a Senate committee that he was referring to himself, not the dissenters. His apparent explanation seemed to be that it would have been an act of judicial activism for him if he had done what Justice Owen and her two fellow dissenters had done.