May 11th, 2010
04:39 PM ET
5 years ago

Exclusive: Tea Party Federation draft 'guide' on Kagan nomination

Washington (CNN) – Tea Party activists are becoming engaged in the nomination fight over who will replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. But differing tactics may end up putting different Tea Party groups at odds.

A Tea Party Express leader exclusively gave CNN a draft copy of a Tea Party Federation document that the organization is calling a "guideline" for picking a Supreme Court justice. This follows President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the high court. Once the document is finalized it will be immediately distributed to Tea Party activists to use as a guide as they request meetings with key senators to discuss Kagan's nomination.

The plan that was revealed to CNN lays out, "Five Constitutional principles." Among those listed are: "Judges must interpret the Constitution of the United States as written," "Judges must not use their positions to replace the text of the law and Constitution of the United States with their own personal feelings or experiences," and "Judges must understand that the Federal government has no power if the Constitution does not explicitly provide it."

Read the draft copy after the jump:

Amy Kremer, the director of grassroots & coalitions for the Tea Party Express, told CNN that the group will be fully engaged in Kagan's nomination. "The whole point of this is to say to Washington, 'we're here and we're watching everything you're doing,'" Kremer said.

Kremer added that activists are in a "fact-gathering mode," figuring out the process, timeline, and how Kagan compares to other Supreme Court nominees. The Tea Party Express has not yet expressed an opinion of Kagan.

"We have not, collectively as a group, taken a hard-line," Kremer said.

But another Tea Party organization is taking a hard-line. In a message distributed Monday to its members, Tea Party Nation, based near Nashville, Tennessee, said it flat out opposes Kagan's nomination.

"Obama has chosen someone who is as radical as he is," the statement said. "Kagan must be stopped."

The Tea Party Nation urged members to contact the seven Republican senators on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

"The nomination cannot leave the committee without at least one Republican vote," the statement said.

The Tea Party Nation may have a steep hill to climb in convincing those Republicans to vote against Kagan. Initial reaction from one key senator on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is positive. Hatch called Kagan "a brilliant woman" and in a statement, promised to examine her "entire record to understand her judicial philosophy."

Another top Republican indicated that the Senate GOP would probably not try to block a vote on Kagan's nomination. "Who knows what we might find in her record," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told CNN. But "I doubt there is anything there that would occasion a filibuster." Kagan is "nominally qualified, and by that I mean she is obviously very intelligent."

Five Constitutional principles to use as guideline for nominating a Supreme Court Justice:

1. Judges must interpret the Constitution of the United States as written.

2. Judges must not use their positions to replace the text of the law and Constitution of the United States with their own personal feelings or experiences.

3. Judges must understand that the Federal government has no power if the Constitution does not explicitly provide it.

4. Judges must respect the delicate checks and balances and the separation of powers among the branches of government.

5. The Constitution is an American document, and declares that it shall be "the Supreme Law of the Land."

With Commentary:

1. Judges must interpret the Constitution of the United States as written and not attempt to modify it, either by inventing new rights or by ignoring or diluting rights already there. The Constitution already provides an amendment process that gives that power to the people and their elected officials.

2. Judges must not use their positions to replace the text of the law and Constitution of the United States with their own personal feelings or agenda or "life experiences." Nor should they allow empathy, political favor, or political identification to affect their legal decisions. To do so is to engage in judicial activism.

3. Judges must understand that the Federal government has no power if the Constitution does not explicitly provide it. The Founders did this to maximize personal and economic liberty. The Constitution reserves all other rights to the states and to the people.

4. Judges must respect the delicate checks and balances and the separation of powers among the branches of government, refusing to become a tool of either the Legislative or Executive branches, and they must be prepared to uphold their oaths by refusing to follow any efforts of the other branches that oversteps their constitutionally delegated powers.

5. The Constitution is an American document, and declares that it shall be "the supreme Law of the Land." Foreign law has no place as precedent or authority in the interpretation of the Constitution.






Filed under: Elena Kagan • Supreme Court • Tea Party Nation
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. John (Phoenix, AZ)

    I wish these people would just go away, and take Palin, Limbaugh, & Beck with them.

    May 11, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. Average American

    Ohhh, how scary, the tea partiers are watching the federal government do what they've done 111 times before. Wow, who cares?!?! We're all watching.

    May 11, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. brs

    ib – not every one in the tea party is a racist, but they are all biased as hell. not one "conservative" justice on the court now would pass this "guideline".

    May 11, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Irma in North Carolina

    I think the tea party should stay out of this. Who is going to listen to these racits any way. You tea baggers better go and console Bennet over his loss.

    May 11, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. The unsub

    Where is the Coffee Party's list of requirements for Kagan?

    May 11, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Gil

    What ever the draft, Kagan won't be old enough, conservative enough (that scares heck out of me that she could be more conservative than Obama expects!). We do know that the teabuggers and the party of NO will find plenty to say "NO" to! Stop it you right wing extremist nut cases!

    May 11, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Seems like a decent set of criteria–particularly number 3. Congress have been ignoring the tenth amendment for so long they've probably convinced themselves it doesn't actually exist.

    May 11, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. once upon a horse

    @ib....

    As a Obama supporter I agree with you, just because you don't agree with the president doesn't make you a racist. But this is not the first time a person has been elected to the court that has NOT been a judge.

    Tea Party or not no matter who President Obama chose they would have not liked him or her so what difference does it make. And why is it when a conservative like Bush picks another conservative it's ok, but to pick a progressive it's almost like crying foul? You righites need to know that there are people in this nation that don't share all your views and also need to be represented. I know you have talk radio all sewed up but you can't have it all. In fact I had hoped the president would have chosen an openly-gay Asian-American male with a moderate background but I guess none were qualified.

    May 11, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Rickster

    I know all you socialist democrats want Elena "where does the buffet line begin" Kagan seated. But, once again, as with everything that Obama does, the correct vote is "NO".

    May 11, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. S Callahan

    It's not wrong to have a non judge on the Supreme Court..this position should be open to all citizens. It is the responsiblity of the elected officals to question, and requestion, the candidate in support of their constituents views and no wavering. Honest and respectful debate must take place...this is not a cushion position...this is a position that is going to influence the future of your children, grandchildren, and possibliy great grandchildren as the candidate is young enough. I , at this point, have no leaning of a yes or a no. More needs to be vetted out.

    May 11, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Nancita

    Excellent guidelines! For everyone. We all share the Constitution - we all suffer when it's manipulated or ignored. Bush abused it. Obama seems to think it's some form of arcane literature he doesn't really like very much. Some day the lefties will be out of power - they may want to endorse this list.

    May 11, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Paul

    Wow, these Tea Partiers must hate John Roberts and his legislating from the bench, right? Right?

    May 11, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. hobart

    >1. Judges must interpret the Constitution of the United States as written and not attempt to modify it, either by inventing new rights or by ignoring or diluting rights already there. The Constitution already provides an amendment process that gives that power to the people and their elected officials.

    The constitution as written is open to discussion. But of course, tea baggers being the consummate authoritarians want to decide what's written really means.

    >2. Judges must not use their positions to replace the text of the law and Constitution of the United States with their own personal feelings or agenda or "life experiences." Nor should they allow empathy, political favor, or political identification to affect their legal decisions. To do so is to engage in judicial activism.

    Allowing corporations to give unlimited money to political candidates is the ultimate of judicial activism. No where in the Constitution or the first amendment is this "right" in writing, yet tea baggers endorse it wholeheartedly. What hypocrites.

    >3. Judges must understand that the Federal government has no power if the Constitution does not explicitly provide it. The Founders did this to maximize personal and economic liberty. The Constitution reserves all other rights to the states and to the people.

    Gee, the Supreme Court wouldn't allow Florida to recount its votes in Bush v Gore. I guess overruling states rights with powers not in the Constitution is OK if it's for their cause.

    >4. Judges must respect the delicate checks and balances and the separation of powers among the branches of government, refusing to become a tool of either the Legislative or Executive branches, and they must be prepared to uphold their oaths by refusing to follow any efforts of the other branches that oversteps their constitutionally delegated powers.

    They shouldn't interfere with a Republican administration's trampling on our rights if it's all part of the "war on terror," but don't limit terrorists' access to guns.

    >5. The Constitution is an American document, and declares that it shall be "the supreme Law of the Land." Foreign law has no place as precedent or authority in the interpretation of the Constitution.

    Then let's take down the Supreme Court Frieze, which traces the history of law back to its pre-American origins. And let's stop swearing on Bibles.

    These tea baggers pretend to be main street America, but in fact, they all have above average incomes, jobs, homes, health insurance, and nice nest eggs invested in the markets. To them, those middle Americans who lost their life savings, jobs, health insurance and homes due to the failed economic policies of conservatives and Republicans are just collateral damage. They should shut up and quit whining, or be outcast as liberals.

    Why are tea baggers such heartless bastards? Why do they hate America?

    May 11, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. JonDie

    The Tea Party, a bunch of people from the 18th century who where coonskin caps and think the Earth is flat.

    May 11, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Shane

    Marie inMD- because YOU are a racist. You and the rest of your teabagging, mindless friends! You idiots have no substance, just a bunch of sound-bytes and stupidity is what you like from your Klan leader Sarah! Trash like that can stink together!!

    May 11, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Maria H-Miami

    She's never been a Judge, has no Courtroom experience, has never ran a Courtroom, unlike Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor.

    She's only been the Solicitor General since March 2009 and has only handled 6 cases!!!!!! Barely has any experience as a Solicitor General

    There are no Legal Opinions recorded, no Courtroom record, no Case Opinions recorded as there was with Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor which could be reviewed.

    How can a Non-experienced person be appointed as a Judge to the Supreme Court?????

    May 11, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Paul

    It appears that the tea party people are against the right to privacy. I guess they believe the govenment can prevent people of different races from being married to one another. The government can pass laws restricting birth control. The people have no protection from the government to their privacy. Scary thoughts. Have they really thought this out?

    May 11, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Angi's mom

    I challenge the Tea Partiers to submit a list of qualified nominations who meet these guidelines. Nominations should be alive and live on earth.

    May 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Benjamin in D.C.

    What's the point of a Legislature if the federal government can't do anything other than what is "explicitly" stated by the Constitution? It's an outline for government, not set of laws. Silly teabaggers.

    May 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. rob

    so unless you have been a justice somewhere, sometime, you are not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court? isn't it most important that our justices show intelligence and fair mindedness? Last I checked there are many lawyers and judicial scholars who satisfy those criteria far better than many who have served on the Court. at least have the sac to say you oppose kagan simply b/c she's an obama apointee. i am sure, had she been a federal judge, you'd find some other reason to condemn the choice. it's idiotic arguments like this – from both sides – that render meaningful discourse an impossibility.

    May 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. a health economist

    3. Judges must understand that the Federal government has no power if the Constitution does not explicitly provide it.

    Does this mean that the judges must call upon the Federal government to dissolve the U.S. Air Force as being Unconstitutional? Because it is not explicitly provided in the Constitution and it is controlled and funded by the Federal government.

    May 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Eric

    So, Kagan has never been a neurosurgeon, but she's "supremely qualified" to sit in a lifetime appointment as the chief of neurosurgery... for ALL neurosurgeons... ALL across America.

    Sounds equally scary when you say it that way, too, huh?

    May 11, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. d

    "This is stupid to try to put a person on the Supreme Court as a justice who has never even been a judge on any court. Another stupid move because she is a far left liberal like Obama. Way to go Mr. Far Left President."

    Right, because it's never happened before? Some of our greatest justices had no prior judicial experience.

    And your final comment is laughable. If you think Obama is anything even close to "far left", you are totally detached from reality.

    May 11, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    6. Void the above if the Constitution goes against my narrative or ideology.

    Conservatives are gun ho on the Constitution as long as it doesn't disagree with them.

    May 11, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tea Party Express draft "guide" on Kagan nomination
    -------------------------------–
    Okay, back it up a few steps! These Teablabbers are taking themselves wayyy too seriously.

    They're drafting a guide on Kagan you say? Why, they can't even draft a grammatically correct poster, much less a guide. Come on now!

    May 11, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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