May 1st, 2009
02:24 PM ET
12 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. Greg in Colorado

    I am shocked and bewildered!!! They are going to say NO to this too? I am in dissaray.

    May 1, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Vietnam COMBAT Vet, OHIO

    Yeah, good luck with that. LMAO

    May 1, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Levy's a moron. Separation of church and state is not an issue with a spectrum. It is a mandate with a line you have either crossed or not crossed. As soon as all the neocon idiots in this country get that through their thick, bible-thumping skulls, the better off we're all going to be.

    May 1, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. jason

    surprise: a black liberal!!

    May 1, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    What do conservativces know about justice?

    May 1, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    How many times times will these Republicans be reminded that they lost the election? Please get over it.

    May 1, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Dana from NY

    an extreme view on seperation of church and state???.... how can you have an extreme view? It is what it is people! It is in our constitution to be so- THERE IS A SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE! Not that these Republican Extremists would ever aknowledge that part of the consititution but it is so! And I for one want a Supreme Court Judge that UPHOLDS ALL of the Constitution not just the sections the Righty's want he or she to! We have had YEARSSS of Republican picks for Supreme Court- and guess what you guys dont have enough votes to block a confirmation – you can stall and drag your feet and whine like the petulant ignorant children you are- but at the end of the day Obama WILL get his just deal, the world will not spin out of control and surely nothing will change except the same rights we currently have will remain safely IN TACT!

    May 1, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Some Republican Guy

    Oh no! There going to nominate one of the evil Obamabots. Then the supreme court will make us all marry gay socialists and have an abortion. Don't stand for it! Boycott ACORN! Have a nice day.

    May 1, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Ben

    The supreme court as it is today is extremely conservative, and only 2 of the members were even nominated by democrats. So conservatives can go stuff it, it's high time that judicial acumen ranks above party loyalty in this country (no more Harriet Myers)

    May 1, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    So Republicans feel that it is wrong to elect someone to the Court with extreme personal biases...unless they are the ones doing it. Whatever. I really don't see how it matters if Obama appoints a liberal no matter what is said about it. The balance will not change from what it is today. No matter what others might have us believe.

    May 1, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Instead of "reaching across the aisle", Obama has put conservatives back on their heels and they are digging in.

    If you recall this is exactly the big failing he pointed out in H.Clinton when he was slamming her: That she got peoples (conservatives) backs up and so was a bad leader.

    May 1, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Molly

    ...and let the crazy battles begin! Come on they had there two picks...its time to give the moderates their justices!

    May 1, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. kgeukes

    Why is this person talking about partial birth abortions? No one does those any more and if any are done it's to save the mothers life!!!!!!

    May 1, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. tjaman

    You fine minds of the JCN have no say - NONE - in who will replace Justice Souter. No wonder Obama is trying to reduce the influence of lobbying groups in Washington. Last I checked, there was no shortage of wind available to wingnuts in the Senate.

    May 1, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Terry

    Let us hope that the Democrats in this Congress will display a little spine for a change. I am tired of Conservative judges shoving their nutty philosophy of governance down our throats and calling it Constitutionalism. To a Conservative, the only people in the nation are giant corporations and their corporate boards. The average citizen counts for nothing to the Conservative mind.

    And, let us never forget that it was five Conservative hacks on the Supreme Court who ordered a state court to stop counting votes, because of their fear that George Bush would not be elected. What a better nation we would have to day if Al Gore had been sworn in (he was elected, he was just never inaugurated). The 2000 election showed all of us that Conservatives have no respect for the electoral process.

    I hope Obama appoints a good Liberal who actually thinks about people, not organizational accounting and the fine print on contracts. I also hope that the Democratic Senators will manage to steady their trembling hands long enough to vote for Obama's nominee.

    May 1, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Gerald Howard

    Why pick someone who is a judge? BHO wants a community organizer who checks all the boxes for being gay, female, non white, etc., etc., etc. Why borhter with someone who will enforce the Constutition? BHO said years ago that the Constitution constricts the power of the Federal Goernment too much. Hw wants someone who will please all the left wing Dems and rule on how they "feel" rather than on what the law is.

    May 1, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Lisa B

    Now this is realy hillarious. Reminds me of one of those old cartoons with a cat or dog running to beat the band, thinking they are really on to something, inches away from sweet success.....then the camera pans wide to show someone holding on to the dog's tail and the poor animal running, panting like hell, but going absolutely no where!

    I think the GOP is really now showing their utter desperation...AND IT IS A FABULOUS SIGHT TO BEHOLD!!!

    May 1, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. michaelam

    Looks as though the Party of No is gearing up to say, NO!

    President Obama could nominate Jesus Christ to the bench and these wing nuts would cast an astounding, NO!

    May 1, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. katiec

    The supreme court is most important to the republicans?
    I have yet to see anything take priority over their obsession of destroying our president and in the process our country.
    Their actions over these last months have taken away any respect and creditibility the American people may have once had.
    And they continue to try and push down our throats their beliefs which the majority of Americans do not support. We voted for change on their outdated stances. Will they ever get it??

    May 1, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    After all of their complaining during the Bush years about candidates not getting an up or down vote on the senate floor, watch how fast the Republicans try to block that very thing on whoever Obama sends to them as a nominee.

    May 1, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Kevin B

    Once again here comes the GOP stirring up a wedge issue with Mr Obama's as yet to determined nominee to divide the country for political gain.

    I am going to enjoy watching the GOP alienate even more americans than they already have, if that is possible.

    When will these sore losers ever learn, it is not about them.

    May 1, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Yannis

    Assuming that by the time that the president appoints the new justice, the Democrats will have filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, if I were him, I would pick Karl Marx!

    May 1, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    All I care is that whoever is appointed keeps personal ideology out of his or her interpretation of the Constitution. Otherwise, this nation will be further divided (if that's even possible at this point).

    May 1, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. One World, One Dream

    It is time for Change in the highest court. We are but one world shared by all peoples around the Globe. Humanity and World opinion must take presence over those that want to close our borders and condemn the porrest nations to dire poverty. We need to come together as one. The people of the World must come before a closed inded document like the U.S. Constitution. We Need Change!!

    May 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Bilbo

    Sorry conservative activists, you lost the election and your party is rushing towards irrelavance...what makes you think that YOU get to choose this time...I hope that President Obama chooses someone with mainstream, socially progressive values...if he does then he may put an end to the activist judges that the conservative preisdents have been putting in place....oh, and finally...someone who is YOUNG...gotta counter those brain-dead buffoons Thomas, Scalia and Roberts....Have a great day!!! We are!!!!

    May 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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