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. Rich

    The Party of NO is springing into action! ^_^

    May 1, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Cowboy in West Texas

    There will be a fight over this – the far left with the far right – I hope those of us in the middle will come out with a judge that is fair and considers all the information and the constitution in his or her ruling. Fact is a black or hispanic or any minority judge could do a great job – as long as they think American, and not special interest.

    May 1, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. gl, Pittsburgh

    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."

    Why on God green earth does the Conservative that this world belong them and only them. It's a conservative court and who told that lie. The court is for all Americans. Too many Conservative Judges give miniority more time in jail for the same crimes as the so called conservative/White people.

    May 1, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Barbie

    The conservatives would do well not to fight this too much. Anyone Pres. Obama nominates will be considered "out of the mainstream" to them. In the past, nominees that had been considered liberal leaning or conservative leaning turned out to be something else once they got on the court. The Republicans should pick their battles – as of now they are just trying to obstruct anything the President does. That is not good for their party or for our country.

    May 1, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Will they stop at nothing?

    Fancy that. Conservative activists don't like judges that "consider experiences of women and people of color in their decision making."

    Nuff said.

    May 1, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Fla.

    Yeah, it's all about them and their so-called "winning issues" for Republicans. Party first, right, Right? How about for the American people for a change, ALL Americans? Or does that not fit in with those "talking points?"

    Give me a break. "Rebranding" is another sad fallacy for more of the same wedges from the Grand Old Party.

    May 1, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. lloyd roberts Jamaica New York

    There they go again, reason I bolted from the Republican party. How can someone who is truly conservative not want someone on the bench who pushes separation of church and state to the extreme level? How, when they are not really conservatives, but right wing religious mullahs. That's what is driving the Republicans and that's why they are losing true conservatives like me who really want gov't out of their lives, not only fiscally, but in all aspects of my life. Curt Levy of the Judicial Confirmation Network, you are a false conservative with those comments, and the reason the GOP lost me and many others. The repubs love big gov't, just their way. Not good enough for me. Get rid of the social conservatives, let them start their own party, maybe called the Religion Party and let the true limited gov't people back into the repub fold

    May 1, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Cathy in AZ

    Here's a novel idea – concentrate on who's the best for the job and stop with who will vote against Roe v Wade, etc etc etc.

    May 1, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. melvinowens

    conservatives need to wake up and realize that thisnot ronald reagan in the white house. this is liberal democrat and he will, and should, nominate a liberal to the supreme court to counter the racists that republicans have placed on the court

    May 1, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Laurie

    These people are dillusional, hysterical, and out on the fringe. It will be amusing to watch them self destruct as this process goes forward. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of nuts. They get everything that's coming to them for being such haters. They represent everything that this country was founded on. Freedom for no one but them, liberty, only for the chosen few (chosen by them), justice, not on you life. Just take a look at the right wing nut job Congresswoman Foxx and her hateful speech on the floor of Congress yesterday. I am going to enjoy watching them have apoplexy when they can't stop this nomination!!! HAH!!

    May 1, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Myassis Dragon

    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.

    They all agree that what is needed is a Supreme Court Justice from the Taliban...

    May 1, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Ken

    And just who are the so-called "conservatives"? Does CNN mean the [R]s in congress? The GOP? Those people and that party have stopped being conservative for sometime now.....the GOP and their remnant followers/apologists are hardcore rightwingers, the reactionary, deluded, regressive underbelly of our nation. This disingenous swarm of insects spent 8 long years in the wilderness trying to defend Bush and his cabal as being "conservative". But their temporary success in fooling the half-wits of this nation ended up taking them so far off the "conservative" target that they can't get their mojo back. I'm sorry CNN, WAKE UP!....the reactionary right is NOT conservative....they and their followers are nasty drama queens with a theocratic, authoritarian agenda for this country. I voted for, and continue to support, Obama - and I have more true conservatism in my little finger than most of these rightwing dolts will have in their lifetimes.

    No, conservatives will not be battling Obama over his supreme court appointment, but the left-over, washed-up neo-tards will.

    May 1, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Stephen

    I wish Souter would have waited at least a little while before jumping ship, but now that he has the republicans had better make an effort at being concilliatory in seating the next judge. They have zero political capital and if they create unwanted problems in the confirmation process they will remain in the political wilderness.

    May 1, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Bruce

    These guys are like angry wasps. . The announcement hasn't even been publically announced, but these guys are already. . plotting, and ready to SAY NO, Obama could appoint Rush Limbaugh to the supreme court(lol) and they would still SCREAM "NO" just because "Obama did it", these dudes need to GRTFU.

    These guys are starting to really piss me off. I mean I like the republicans stance on fiscal issues. But the way they have been acting lately is making me really want to just quit the party all together and become independent. I rather been aligned with people who can disagree like adults instead of carry around like little kids. .

    May 1, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. Eric in St. Paul, MN

    This could get 70% or the GOP on board? Big deal, recent surveys show that 28% of the country identifies as Republican, so that means that this will galvanize 0.70 x 0.28 = 0.196. or 19.6% of the country. Way to go GOP!!! I say bring it, Obama, you have NOTHING TO LOSE!!!

    May 1, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Big D

    So .. Obama shoud not determine his own criteria for picking a SC judge, and should not make his own best decision. He really should use the criteria of his opponents and let them make the choice for him. And the opponents are setting their criteria on what would raise the most positive publicity for themselves. Does that sum it up?

    May 1, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    what a surprise.....God/guns/gays with Abortion also tossed is as a necessity.

    May 1, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Julie

    I think that the far right should think about the fact that Justice Stouter waited until Barack Obama was elected to leave the court. Perhaps an insider knows that the high court benefits from having a lot of different view points on the law reflected. I know that the far right is adverse to a lot of different view points, but they should reflect on it a bit – they are the reason that the Democrats now control the White House, the Senate and the House.

    May 1, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. Mike

    When are "Republican Conservatives" such as Curt Levy who mouth off even before a potential Supreme Court nominee is announced for a position that is not, as of now, vacant realize how absolutely stupid they sound and , in fact are?????
    The last I saw and heard – even Fox News announced it – 0nly 21% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans. Using Levy's own numbers of 70-30 agreement between "Rebublicans" that means that 14% of Americans would agree with him and his followers.
    14% should not outweigh 86%. He and you other conservative right wing nuts are totally irrevelant.

    May 1, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. jennifer

    Wendy Long said "it's a conservative court we need to push back against that immediately" regarding the thought that president Obama might appoint a liberal judge to replace Souter.

    Ms Long..if the court is conservative as you say that is the very reason why a liberal must be appointed. The United States is at it's best, for everyone, when there is balance in the Congress and the Judiciary. Your kind of thinking is narrow and exclusive and seen in groups like the Taliban

    May 1, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Tank Engine

    The "Judicial Confirmation Network" were the people who argued that "failing to confirm judicial nominees tears at the fabric of our democracy" now are trying to hold up all of Obama's nominees.

    May 1, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. dittohead using forty names

    Please call or E mail Rush Limbaugh with your comments today.He says he will take even liberal and centrist questions today, on "open line friday".Lets put him to the test and call today.You have an hour left to ask him anything you want about the Supreme court nominations.

    May 1, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Mississippi Mike

    The court is NOT conservative. It had four conservatives, four liberals and a guy who doesn't know which side of the fence he sits on. The court should make all of its decisions based on the constitution, if that makes the court conservative, then so be it.

    May 1, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    It is a judicial imperative to replace a liberal with a liberal. If any argument were worth fighting for, it is this. I would love to see some of the conservative gas bags run out of hot air trying to filibuster against a freaky liberal nominee. I hope he nominates an atheist.

    May 1, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. steve

    Till Republicans repent and apologize to American people of their lies and deception of illegal wars!!

    May 1, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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