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. Simmy

    A female choice would be nice.....However, Gov. Deval Patrick would be a great anti-Clarence Thomas....

    Someone please remind the media that their opinions are not bona fide news....

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

    I hope that the President appoints someone that will follow the 14th Amendent, and protect American citizens from having the states (mostly Southern States) take away their rights. History is clear. Rights have always been threatened by state governments more than they have been by the national government. I cannot believe that some judges on the Supreme Court, and former President Bush, believe that a state has the right to put gay people in prison for 10 years. I want to live my life as I please, as long as I do not hurt another person, and I want others to have that right too. I am not gay, but I do not want to put gays in prison. I am happily married and I have never been divorced, but I do not want to put remarried divorcees in jail. Give us a Justice that will protect us from the conservatives who want a theocracy, and will uphold the First Amendment's Separation of Church and State.

    May 1, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. I Am The Not-So-Powerful Wizard of Rush

    We should have let the rushpublicans blow up the fillibuster in 2005.
    Obama: Please appoint a liberal to the court.

    May 1, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Vigla

    These conservatives have nothing better to do. They are bankrupt of ideas and now all they have left is to harp on social issues. Let's face facts. Obama can pretty much nominate anyone he wishes and they will likely be confirmed. This scrambling is simply to make conservatives feel relevant.

    May 1, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Looking for a new way

    We're so busy fighting ourselves, we've lost sight of what we have in common. I think we're put on this earth to do some good for each other, and there are a lot of people hurting right now that could use some help. I am so tired of blame games, the name games, the whose got what, the fear based politics, etc. Can't our leaders and special interests stop trying to win on issues and rather work together to solve them.

    May 1, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Romney2012

    Why a Hispanic Caucus? What a black caucus? why are these two groups repeatedly racists with their "groupings," and demands? Why not have a white caucus...since, after all, it's whites that pay the majority of the taxes that get siphoned off to fund these minority trouble making groups.

    May 1, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Mike in MS

    Well well well what have we here.... dems caught in a mouse trap. What do I mean?????

    At first glance, with Democrats a hair away from a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, one would expect President Obama to have no trouble hand-picking a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

    But in an ironic twist, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party this week could give Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee the upper hand in rejecting a nominee they find unacceptable.

    That's because the Judiciary Committee, where Specter was the ranking minority member, requires the consent of at least one Republican to end debate and move a nominee to the full Senate for a vote.

    TOO BAD FOR DEMS!!!!!!

    May 1, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Steve-O

    I already think there are enough right-wing nutjobs on the court, however, we will file away your request and if there is an opening for one we will give you a call.....

    May 1, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Destiny from Illinois

    As if a more conservative nominee wouldn't have persnal views or case of extreme right handed decisions. Give me a break. I hope we get a Supreme court judge who DOES know what seperation of church and state means and what "certain unalienable rights" are concerning personal freedoms. This includes the right to marry whomever you choose.

    May 1, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Richard-Arkansas

    How about Bill Clinton? They should cause FAUX News to blow a gasket and he is young enough to be around for 30 or more years which must be a priority. Unless they can find a 30 year old that meets the requirements.

    May 1, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Murphy

    Why is it that folks call it "pro-gay marriage" .... the US Constitution guarantees the same rights to all people and makes no distinction as to an individuals' sex or sexual preference.

    Gays have just as much right to marry as any other American Citizen.

    May 1, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |

    Boy with a dem president making the decision you can bet the hood-wearing, anti-gay, "replace the constitution with the bible" militant evangelicals are gonna be up in arms about this one!
    Let's just hope reason prevails, not the bleatings of the divisive "idiot-ology" of the Taliban-like neocons and the other flat-earthers of the "Moral Majority"...

    May 1, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    Obviously, the left-wing bloggers here will rabidly assert that Conservatives don't have the same right to protest that the liberals had during prior administrations. Let the liberal hypocrisy begin.......

    May 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Scott the Independent

    Yep this should be the event that will secure the republican party's death. This, by their own doing, will be the nail that seals the coffin. They would feel obligated after all they have done and said; mostly lies and misrepresentations, to fight just for the sake of fighting. We will witness a landslide of lies and convoluted excuses. We will then wonder how these people ever were voted in the first place. This will be a sad time in our history, yet one that will be more revealing than ever on the importance of VETTING potential candidates by every American with the right to vote.

    May 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Matt

    Why is it that the current incarnation of the Republican party claims to be all about personal liberty, freedoms, and lack of government involvement on the one hand, while arguing that the state should not view same-sex marriages as legal? Religious organizations are not obliged to marry anyone to anyone at all, but the state should not be allowed to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation. I seem to read about that on every job application I read.

    May 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Bob

    A moderate Obama would have replace a conservative justice with at least a middle of the road person. But I think he needs to make a stand. Appoint somebody who pro-choice, pro-drug, anti-torture, etc. I want him to appoint the most liberal justice he can get passed without a care about the GOP. They haven't tried to work with him, they need to get back what they serve.

    May 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. JoeC

    Just recently Republicans in the Senate (and their conservative allies) were talking about "going nuclear" to get Bush's appointees through, that they should be judged on qualifications, not viewpoints. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

    May 1, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. Marty, Grand Rapids Mi

    Ok, conservatives that are against abortion really need to be spending their time focusing on other ways of reducing abortion. Their time would be much better spent promoting/providing comprehensive sex education and making contraceptives more available. Abortion is a symptom of women having unwanted babies and outlawing it will only partially solve the problem and potentially create others (See Romania as one example of what can go wrong). After 36 years of not changing anything from a law/court perspective, I would think you would want to find other ways to be successful.

    For those of you that think you would be "promoting pre-marital sex" buy supporting sex education, think about this. First, your wrong. Second, pick the lesser of two evils. Third, abstinence only education does not work. Teens don't bother to do any risk management and they are curious. Don't let their mistake impact another life.

    Court appointees should not be political pawns. They should interpret the constitution, strike down laws that violate it and be the last resort for the minority to maintain their rights.

    May 1, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Billy

    Leave it to the Republicans to see this as an opportunity to divide the country rather than put the best person on the bench.

    Republicans just don't believe in country first anymore, it's all about them.

    May 1, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Shecky

    Obama will nominate a pro-choice (ie. baby-killer), pro-gay marriage, anti-family justice.

    But that is his right as President. And the guy will get in because the Dems are fillibuster-proof (well, ALMOST – as soon as Al Franken finishes stealing the Minnesota election, they will be)

    May 1, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Eleanor

    I hope that this is just the first of several replacements to the Court that President Obama will be able to make. I'd like to see him nominate a black woman to the Court!

    Now...if Scalia and Thomas would just take a hike too!!

    May 1, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. WhoCares?

    Democrats and Independents are going to have to steel ourselves for the massive hypocrisy that will be spewing from their mouths as they purposely forget Bush's two hard-right conservative appointees while they tell Democrats thet they have top be bi-partisan.

    It's going to be beyond belief.

    May 1, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. Andi

    First, I don't believe this group really knows what 'mainstream legal thought' is. Secondly, this is not a Democrat vs Republican issue. This is an issue regarding the Supreme Court of the Untied States of America. A Supreme Court Justice, in my opinion, should not have an 'ideology' of any kind. The NOW v Sheidler decision was not 'to prevent pro-life activists from engaging in protests', but to protect Americans' civil rights when seeking to obtain an abortion, i.e. to not be assaulted verbally and physically walking into a legal clinic to obtain a legal abortion. Protesting something is a far cry from inciting anger and violence toward innocent Americans, something the 'pro-life' seems to think only applies to people until they are born.

    May 1, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Ted Tartaglia

    Once again, the Republican religious whackos are proving themselves to be partisan ideologues caring less about what is good for the country. They are only concerned with trying to force their views on everyone else.

    Given that only 21% of voters are willing to identify themselves as Republicans, who cares what these idiots think?

    May 1, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. Todd

    This should make for some interesting sound bites!!!

    May 1, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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