May 1st, 2009
02:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Conservatives prepare for Supreme battle

WASHINGTON (CNN) - There are few issues that rally conservatives as much as a Supreme Court nomination - and activists are wasting no time gearing up for a battle.

Conservative groups worked into the night Thursday after news broke of Justice David Souter’s retirement to arrange a conference call early Friday morning to talk strategy with representatives of more than 60 groups.

Leaders on the call, such as Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, told colleagues that one of their first challenges is convincing activists there is a fight to be had.

"One thing to keep in mind is that the left and media will say this doesn't really matter - Obama will just replace a liberal with a liberal,” Long said. “It's a conservative court. We need to push back against that immediately.”

Curt Levy, also of the Judicial Confirmation Network, argued to the nearly 200 activists on the conference call that this can "be a winning issue" for conservatives if they focus on what he called the "right issues" such as same sex marriage, death penalty and the Second Amendment - issues that can split Democrats.

"If [President Obama] was to nominate somebody who was anti-death penalty, pro-gay marriage, you know – took a very extreme view on the separation of church and state, etc, or against any restriction on partial birth abortion… I think this could really be a 70-30 type issue for the Republican Party." said Levy, meaning it would have 70 percent support from Republicans.

Conservative activists also made it clear that they're concerned about whether Republican senators have the stomach for this fight, since they know going in that Democrats have a nearly filibuster proof majority.

"We've really got to make it clear that we have certain expectations for Republican senators," Levy said, "Including the fact that they study the nominee and not run to the podium to endorse the nominee whoever it is.”

Another member of the Judicial Confirmation Network, Gary Marx, said he has the same concerns.

"We need to really be focused on putting wind in the sails of these Republican senators at this stage of the battle," said Marx.

The conservative coalition, which formed to support President Bush's Supreme Court nominees, is already targeting three potential Obama picks: Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood.

An email with talking points for conservatives describes Kagan, who now serves as the solicitor general, as someone lacking judicial experience who is "disturbingly out of the mainstream.”

The conservatives argue Sotomayor, now an appellate judge, has a "hard-left record" who believes that judges should consider experiences of women and people of color in their decision making. They also described her as a "bully" who "abuses lawyers."

And conservatives are arguing that Wood, a circuit court judge, incorporates her personal views into her decisions.

"Judge Wood's judicial views have on occasion been far outside mainstream legal thought and appear driven by her personal policy views. In NOW v. Scheidler, she wrote an opinion applying RICO – a statute designed for mob prosecutions – to prevent pro-life activists from engaging in protests. The Supreme Court reversed with Justices Ginsburg's and Breyer's concurrence," reads the conservative talking points.

Updated: 2:24 p.m.


Filed under: David Souter • Supreme Court
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Shadysider

    Hire someone who is against automatic weapons among the citizenry, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-death penalty (in cases w/o doubt). These rules allow for social equalization, allows a mother to control her own body (needed for mother's health and in cases of rape), allows for the 2nd amendment, and punishes the worst in our society the way they should be punished.

    May 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Michael

    They're gearing up to fight a nominee who hasn't been selected? Isn't that premature denunciation.

    May 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. SeparateChurchandState

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

    I'm not sure how much more clear this can be. No law can be made in regards to religion at all and that includes a law where the purpose is to carry out an ideal. And I know this says "congress" but the job of the Supreme Court is to decide whether a law passed by Congress is Constitutional, not to create new laws. This isn't an "extreme" interpretation of church and state, it's how it's written, face value. Ambiguity created by trying to interpret the Constitution solves nothing. It's meant to be taken as written. Why do you think the second amendment is only one sentence and why the Bill of Rights in general is NOT a diatribe of explanations? They are simple things intended to be pursued as they are written.

    The founding fathers knew religion used as a reason of government law and morality led only to dire consequences. They did just get done fighting a war where the king thought he was ordained by god to rule and everyone else must abide by that.

    May 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Poor conservatives. They got their appointments now its time for the Democrats to get theirs.

    May 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. anita

    The GOP needs to stay off the "gay marriage" soap box.
    Bush maneuvered that around in his POTUS elections for political expediency.
    I'm no fan of gay rights activism, ala' Perez Hilton; but the GOP needs to stop the public discrimination based on sexual orientation. (By the way there is no excuse for the small minded, bigoted attitude of Hilton representing "The Pre-eminent Gay Voice")
    Let the wedding planners, event venue locations, resort hotels, formal wear designers, caterers, bartenders, department stores, photographers, divorce lawyers, et.c, all increase their business.

    May 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Kathy S. Cloughn

    Gosh, what happened? it seemed that the repubs were riding high a couple of years back...stay away a long time so we can get the US back on track@

    May 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. JML

    WHY, don't they (CONS) have enouph to do?

    May 1, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Bingo in Alabama

    A wise man chooses his battles carefully and does not expend force and effort where there is no chance of winning the battle but conserves his forces to win the overall war. Conservatives cannot win this battle. The liberals control the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Presidency - they will get whomever they want to replace Justice Souter. The conservative side would be well advised to decline to engage on this issue, let President Obama nominate whomever he chooses, let Senators Leahy and Reid ram the nomination through the Senate, then carefully track the record of the new nominee and use it as a rallying point for the next election. "See the justices confirmed by the liberal Senate? We need to take back Congress with Conservative Senators!" See you in 2010.

    May 1, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. Boytjie

    "it would have 70% support from Republicans."

    What is 70% (supportive conservatives) of 21% (Americans that identify as Republican)?

    May 1, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Mr. Wizzard

    Forget about "No Child Left Behind", it's now "Let's Kill the GOP". For a bunch of supposedly bright people, they can't add. By the time the vote comes, Franken will be seated and 60 votes are there.

    That being said, Obma would be wise to choose a centrist in the Kennedy mode. Kennedy's now the swing vote and very, very carefully deliberates each case on its merits and that's as it should be.

    To those who say it has to be a woman, a Latino, an Asian or whatever else, I say choose the most qualified, non-ideological candidate and run with him or her. The country deserves no less.

    May 1, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Jake

    I hope he nominates a ultra-liberal lesbian from Berkeley, ideally latina, asian or black. lets really stick it to the conservatives! they'll raise a stink no matter who he nominates.

    May 1, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. just another "arrogant" American

    I can see it now: Justice Jeremiah Wright.

    May 1, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Jim G pa

    This Levy guy must be smoking that illegal stuff. The chance of a conservative getting on this court with an overwhelming democratic majority in the Senate is, I'd say, about zero...But you go get em psycho guy!!

    May 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. globalgroove

    And again the right is looking for a fight....it is clearly that is all they know.

    May 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. Gordon Shumway

    You know his nominee and obvious shoo-in will be black and female. I truly hope she doesn't sound too much like Rev Wright!

    May 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Keeth in California

    They come out fighting with rhetoric of fear, so what's new? They scream "activist judges" and yet so many of those judges labeled as such have been Republican appointees. Conservatives live in a world built on shared mythology.

    May 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Suzanne

    Conservative Coalition: "An email with talking points for conservatives describes Kagan, who now serves as the solicitor general, as someone lacking judicial experience who is "disturbingly out of the mainstream."

    Pardon me, but I don't think the Conservative Coalition knows (or cares) what "mainstream" America's real values are. In fact, the views of this right-wing coalition seem to be the ones that are "disturbingly out of the mainstream," if their views mirror those of the current GOP talking heads.

    Even more evidence that the GOP remains stubbornly clueless and totally out-of-touch with everyday Americans. What a shame.

    May 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Steve

    Obama should appoint the most qualified liberal he can find, and take it to the right-wingers. He'll win, and the country will be better for it.

    May 1, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Donna from Colorado Springs

    I'm sure that the president will pick someone who shares his ideals and balances out the rest of the supreme court. What we absolutely DO NO NEED IS ANOTHER CONSERVATIVE!

    May 1, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. shucks

    With the new poll that just came out showing that people who attend church on a regular basis are more likely to vote in favor of torture, the groups mentioned above have proven their hypocrisy to the extreme. They also have extreme views, and want to extremely curtail the rights of "free" Americans by using their religious philosphy to create an atmosphere of division and alienation. This cannot be permitted to happen. Religions, especially right wing christians, are proving that they are not the forgiving, all inclusive, accepting and loving people they masquerade to be, and in fact are some of the most hateful, outright abusive people in this country right now, only they think that professing their belief exempts them from scrutiny and judgement. These religions are going to be the downfall of this country and the new poll out proves it by showing that these groups would actually permit torture of those who don't agree with their positions. Sick.

    May 1, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. KC

    No checks and balances. Majority held by Dems in Senate and Congress. Already America is controlled by a party that doesn't care about children, the working class, our soldiers or this country. To those of you who believe this party cares about children think about this: #2 man at the AG's office is a child porn defender, HR1913 includes protection for pedophiles and let's not forget the fact that Dems just love, love, love to abort babies. Tax the working class up the wazoo and of course this is the party that spits on soldiers. So, the future of America is in the hands of heartless, mean-spirited, unethical animals. God help us all.

    May 1, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. cassamandra

    happily, by the time the confirmation hearings roll around, Al Franken will be seated and instead of a "70:30 issue for Republicans," it will be a 60:40 issue for the Senators.

    May 1, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. The Unshrub

    If the left treats the right the same way the right treated the left when Bush picked two justices the right will scream bloody murder. They should not filibuster the nomination because they threatened to change the rules when the Democrats talked about a filibuster. Now it's their turn.

    May 1, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. Craig - Hastings, MN

    Our way or the highway with these so-called "conservatives". I choose the highway The Court needs to be more balanced. Period!!!!!!!

    May 1, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Jim

    Yes, it is a conservative court, and we have seen the effects of such. It's time to bring balance to the Supreme Court. Not a liberal bias, but balance. We can't afford to let special interests drive who we push to the highest Court in the country.

    To allow special interests to drive that would be to demonstrate how broken the system really is...

    May 1, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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