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. Christian

    This should really not be a decision based upon if someone is liberal enough. This is a conservative court, and frankly, they have the most power in washington (yes..even moreso than your beloved pres.). There is really only 1 interpretation of the constitution and the law, and these judges are the keepers of that. Their personal opinions, and your personal opinions do not matter in these cases. Fact is fact and the law is the law.

    May 1, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Rickymo

    They won't have anything to do with this. Almost all the time the President gets what he wants. W got Roberts and Alito so Obama will get who he wants.

    May 1, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Puff the Magic Dragon

    This should make Rush, Sean & Bill really nervous.

    May 1, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Jerry

    Gotta be another tax-cheat!

    May 1, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Jim

    And as for disturbingly out of the mainstream, have the members of this group looked in the mirror lately?

    May 1, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Little Miss Sunshine

    With a Democratic White House, Senate or House of Representatives do conservative Republicans really think they'll stand a chance??

    May 1, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. E.C.Coleman

    What is the REAL REASON that Souter has chosen retirement?
    Does it strike anyone that we just went through another 'surprise defection' by Specter to the Democratic party?
    Souter has surprisingly been very, very Liberal in the Court.
    Quite frankly, it is a scary thought to even imagine what type of
    judge obama will appoint.........
    We will all be surprised, and surely, he will own this Supreme Court Nominee.
    Something tells me there were 'other issues' in Souter's decision
    to leave the Court in June.
    Could it be that there were issues and cases scheduled for the Court in the near future in which he did not care to participate?
    Why would Souter leave before serving 20 years?
    Makes No Sense.

    May 1, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. videodrome

    This is a sad day in America when everything boils down to "conservative vs. liberal" agendas.
    The fact that conservatives see everything as a "fight" instead of an opportunity does not speak well of these people or organizations.
    The fact that liberals see everything as an "opportunity" for big government to interfere in every aspect of people's lives does not speak well of these people either.
    I hate to use the word "moderate" because even that is a cliche that courts controversy. But we really need to find some common sense and common ground. WE are ALL AMERICANS people - at least us LEGAL citizens.

    May 1, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. CAL

    The repubs are already planning to give President Obama a tough time with this nomination, however these clowns have no idea who they are dealing with, it's obvious considering all he has done and will do and how much we love him. President Obama is no fool and these morons better get ready. LOL

    May 1, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Jack

    You neocons are just a bunch of idiot. For you guys it's just about winning on an issue.

    May 1, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Andy in Texas

    Bet you aren't sayin "Screw Specter" now!

    May 1, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Danny

    Republicans are getting more pathetic by the hour. I am so disappointed and disgusted with them.

    May 1, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. J. Huck

    One thing these activists are forgetting, they are in the super minority right now – YOUR IDEAS DOES NOT MATTER, you don't have any skin in the game like the dems were in the confirmation of Roberts and Alito. Just suck it up.

    May 1, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Abby

    They have said ‘NO’ before the question was even posed and anyone was proposed. Nothing new here from the Party of NO. But battle ‘implies’ that they actually have any power. lol

    May 1, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. J.Crobuzon

    Sorry fellas, your old geezer and his pig-lipped soccer mom lost the election. Why don't you all go teabag each other as a protest?

    May 1, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Nick - West Hills (L.A.), CA

    Uh....Lemme see here.

    GOP/Conservatives: YOU LOST! Get over it!

    Obama should install a VERY Liberal justice to offset the conservative make up of the current court, and guarantee OUR FREEDOM!

    Freedom from the RELIGIOUS RIGHT. FREEDOM of CHOICE. FREEDOM from GOVERNMENT imposing their will on our private lives.

    When the GOP eventually figures out what the AMERICAN PEOPLE want, and, they evolve, and maybe, just maybe, they are in power again, they can appoint who they want.

    In the mean time, SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT, just like "we" had to when you guys nominated Thomas & Scalia.

    May 1, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, Va

    He'll pick a hispanic woman to take the seat.

    May 1, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Jillian, SD

    The Republicans will just have to get over the fact that THEY LOST. The Supreme Court does not have to stay conservative. That's why we have elections. And...even if Barack picks a liberal justice, that justice may not vote liberal.

    So shut up Republicans and wait your turn. Your turn is not now, and hopefully not ever, after the Supreme Court picked the Worst President Ever–George W. Bush, we don't think conservative can do a good job.

    May 1, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Steve Purol

    I'm not sure I follow Curt Levy's logic here. How can someone have "a very extreme view on the separation of church and state?" I read that statement as an attack upon the US Constitution. It is very clearly stated in words so simple that we learn about it in grade school: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion."
    Unfortunately, the right wing often forgets that this door swings both ways. It's perfectly fine for them to attempt to proselytize from public offices but when I speak out publicly against them it's religious discrimination. Give me a break!
    It saddens me to see what used to be intelligent public debate has turned into petty name calling. When will the intelligent members of our society re-gain control of OUR government?

    May 1, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Marge

    After stacking such knuckle heads as Alito, Roberts, Thomas and Scalia how in the devil do the republicans have the nerve to even say they want their choice on the court.

    If the partisan republican supreme court justices had not shown their true colors in 2000 and appointed bush this country would not be in the mess it is in now.

    I think all five of them should resign and slink into the sunset. THEY are more responsible for the mess than anybody.

    May 1, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Wake-me-when-it's-over

    Pray for our nation. Pray that the moral fiber of our being, is not trampled over by pro gay activists, who have no regard for the souls of
    God's creation. Just look up and look around, and be aware of
    the things that matter most. If God is for us...who can be against us?

    May 1, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. WI Vet

    Here is my idea for the next Judge:

    1 follows the Law
    2 keeps his faith out of the court room
    3 is not doing drugs
    4 has common man/woman understanding

    May 1, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Alan

    Let's see:

    - George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote
    - replaced MODERATE Sandra Day O'Connor with ultra-right wing Sam Alito
    - and that was fine with these groups


    –Barack Obama, who won by a landslide
    - may replace the LIBERAL David Souter with another liberal
    - And these groups consider it an outrage

    Whatever happened to fairness?

    May 1, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Don

    Perfect. The wingnuts come out of the woodwork to push the Republicans even further right. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has already voted on the anti-gay rights, anti-choice, anti-seperation of church and state platform these people are pushing and the Repubs lost big time two cycles in a row.

    That red meat has been on the table for a long time and it's starting to smell pretty rancid to the vast majority of the country. But, by all means, keep throwing it out there.

    May 1, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. The Other Michael in Houston

    Wow folks this is disturbing. You Republicans are flat out insane. So let me get this straight, you want to force women to not having a right to choose, you want to force your religion on everyone? I am under 65 so I was not around whne Hitler was in power, but I have studied WWII and the events leading up to it and the Rebulican Party really sounds the same as the Nazi Party, difference is you are speaking in English Versus German. Is that all you are made up of now, a bunch of fear mongering, religous, hateful, bitter men and women? Are you freaking serious????I hope, and I mean I hope that the remaining Republican Senators and House Reps, stop listening to these people like Rush, Hannity, Levy etc. or else what is left of your party will vanish of the face of politics in America.

    May 1, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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