May 11th, 2010
04:39 PM ET
4 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. peter vaguely

    What the Tea Baggers don't understand about The Supreme Court of the United States of America is that the role of the Supreme Court is EXACTLY to interpret the Constitution. That is their role since around 1800. The Law of the Land is not fixed, it is an evolving concept. It is a process. If it were not so slavery would still be legal and women would not be able to vote.

    May 11, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. peter vaguely

    It is Not "stupid" to nominate someone who has never been a judge. There have been 40 Justices with no judicial experience. Not only is prior judicial experience not required, it is actually beneficial. Read your history books "ib"

    May 11, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    The tea party idiots have hijacked the republican party in Maine. They set-up and approved the Republican platform which has some spooky thing in it. Check it out and you will see why people are calling these teabaggers racist and nuts.

    May 11, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Too bad these "big thinkers" iof Teabaggers weren't around when:

    The Supreme Court decided the 2000 election;

    President Bush and his thugs bluffed Congress into giving Bush the right to do what he wants without any accountability; or

    Justice Roberts got to interpret the Constitution the way big business told him to do so in making campaign contributions.

    Oh, wait a minute; they were around, and they were following orders then, too – to ignore all of it!

    May 11, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. FactCheck

    Why is CNN wasting their time highlighting the talking points of a fringe group that has (at best and by the most conservative standards) roughly 10% of the population interested in their "cause"? Heck, there are likely more Americans who support the Green party than there are supporters of the Tea party.

    May 11, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Frank in valparaiso indiana

    Why do we even waste bandwidth on the Tea Baggers? They are a bunch of idiots who know nothing about the law and how this country is run. Their list of what judges do is something I wouldn't accept from a 6th grader.

    They're not patriots by any stretch of the definition. They're a bunch of simpletons who have no idea what they are talking about.

    May 11, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Jilli

    So we're supposed to take direction from a group that can't even spell moron correctly?

    I think these folks – this small minority of republicans – have a really over inflated impression of their importance. They are not the majority, they are a small fraction of a minority of Americans. Plus all of them combined probably don't have an IQ in double digits.

    May 11, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Michael

    It's a sad day when "conservatism" is used as an excuse for abject stupidity.

    May 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. philojazz

    Jeff in Virginia has said all that needs to be said.

    May 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. annie s

    So then I guess the Tea Party recognizes that the Supremes had no right to appoint George Bush to the Presidency and certainly had no right to declare that corporations have the same rights as individual citizens,. What, no protests!

    May 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ib May 11th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

    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.
    --------------------------------

    Stupid is such a strong word. Especially when there have been THREE judges that have served on Supreme Court that were NEVER judges prior to their appointment: Renquist, Brandeis, and Warner.
    Legends.

    Expand your vocabulary....and your knowledge.

    May 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Bob

    The list seems like common sense to me. Maybe I should join the tea party. They seem to be in touch with American principles!

    May 11, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Elizabeth

    Who cares what these people have to say, they are not a party, just a bunch of clueless bigots. Anyone who listens to Sarah Palin in not anyone I would give any credence to.

    May 11, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. NC

    God help us all if teabaggers think they have the knowledge to select Supreme Cout Justices. Teabaggers form your own country. We will give you Alaska and Palin can be your President if you never set foot in our country again. Get a life teabaggers, get an education so you can read the Constitution.

    May 11, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm agog. Who asked them to get somebody to write this for them? Who's going to read it? Who are they going to give it to? What happens if this is not adhered to? Will they promptly throw themselves into the river......like their venerable forefathers?!

    May 11, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. BADGER

    I agree with their wish list, to bad GWB and his old man blew that out of the water with thomas and roberts and the other three anti we the people justices.
    So now the tea raggers are going to be the ones deciding the next justice.
    When are these people going to understand that Obama beat McCain by 10million votes.
    The People have spoken.

    May 11, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. rosaadriana

    Who the hell elected these people to decide the guidelines of how a supreme court justice should be decided. Last I recall Obama was the elected president so he is the one that should be putting out the guidelines.

    May 11, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Albo58

    Not surprisingly the Dimwit loons are fully supporting an Obama pick that is practically a female version of himself, politically speaking! One of the things about this lady that is not too inspiring to this military veteran is the childish stand she took against our military recruiters because of her opposition to DADT. Her little protest was a total affront to our proud men and women in uniform and for that I think she should NOT get a seat on the SCOTUS!

    May 11, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    When will they decide who is American enough? Will the folks not American enough in their "guide" have to wear like a yellow American flag sewn to their jacket? These people are imbiciles.

    May 11, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Lets expose Rush Limbaughs staff.

    I laugh at the Tea Party and the real Steve,"the moron.hahaha

    May 11, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. WhoCares?

    The ridiculous overblown media coverage of these clowns has certainly raised their Egos a bit eh?

    May 11, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Terry in Iowa

    The tea partiers’ very first principle shows their ignorance and begins to unmask their true intentions.

    The word interpret means 1) to explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms; 2) to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance. Thus, making it impossible to “interpret” the Constitution of the United States as written, only those who wrote it have the ability to interpret it as written. The rest of us have no choice, but to interpret it based on our own perspectives and bias.

    What these individuals, who continue to show their contempt for the Constitution, want is to put into leadership only those who interpret the Constitution as they do.

    May 11, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. WhoCares?

    They would have to kick out Roberts if they wanted to follow these guidelines.

    May 11, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. Dan, TX

    I agree with the list, and Kagan will be an excellent choice, not a poor one to ensure the integrity of the constitution. I support Kagan since she is a centrist and not a radical. The tea party express appears to be outside the mainstream of American thought. I may not agree with Kagan on a number of issues, but she is not radial.

    May 11, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. WhoCares?

    The sad thing is we will have the national media reading these off tonight as if they contain some kind of importance outside this small group of idiots.

    May 11, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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