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. DC

    I would think that Hillary Clinton would be a potential nominee as well.

    May 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Typical. They give reasons for not supporting potential picks, but they didn't suggest a pick of their own liking.

    May 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Gloria

    So the conservatives finally admit they don't care about the experiences of people of color.....or women whom may have a different opinion then themselves.

    For once they are finally telling it like it is!!!

    May 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. ha

    please. the G-NO-p has done enough damage for decades to come.

    May 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. bsmith171

    souter can now return t using his mom's outhouse.
    he was never comfortable with indoor plumbing.

    May 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Irene

    Hooray, we finally have a chance to honor the constitution and have full separation of church and state in this country. The GOP's can't hold the constitution hostage any more!

    May 1, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. ChiGuy

    Really just conservative gear up for a battle? Liberals have done the same thing for the last 8 years.

    May 1, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Michael

    I want to be sure I understand this. Conservatives do not want a liberal on the Supreme Court who puts his personal opinions into judgements... BUT, someone who is pro-life is ok to be a Justice?
    I bet these are the same people who don't want birth control and are NOT the first to stand in line to adopt a child.
    My advice to them is to crawl back under their rock.

    May 1, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. yeah

    conservatives might as well not bother. Dems are going to install whoever they want to the court and there is nothing the rep's can do about it. all we need now is one of the conservative judges to retire and we finally have a liberal court. our rights (and future elections) will finally be safe.

    May 1, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. M

    Mr. President,

    ANN Claire Williams (US Court of Appeals Judge 7th Circuit). She is female and considered a Moderate.

    May 1, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. An Ex-Republican

    I must say that I am UTTERLY EMBARASSED to have been a member of the Republican Party....

    The party has become a lightning rod for extreme conservative views, after reading this latest article regarding the Supreme Court Nominee, it's very apparent that the Republicans are digging their trenches to fight against WHOEVER is the nominee...

    This tactic is not in the best interest of the U.S.A., once again it shows the partys tactics are in the best interest of the REPUBLICAN PARTY...

    This is actually quite SHAMEFUL, it wreaks on ANTI-AMERICANISM, an implies PRO-REPUBLICANISM.

    When John McCain ran his campagne on the notion of COUNTRY FIRST, when it was obvious it was just a mere slogan, this caused our party UN-REPAIRABLE CREDABILITY DAMAGE...

    I think most Americans have a hard time trusting us, that's why I left the party and intend on voting Democratic until we can distance ourselves from people like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Newt Gringrich and other Divisive forces that are seen as leaders of the Republican Party.......

    May 1, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. GOP = 21st century dodo

    Yes, like George Bush before him, Obama should consider all objections from the opposing party before making a decision.


    May 1, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Jamie

    Wow, these right wing nut jobs are amazing. There's a fight to be had? No there isn't. The Democrats control both chambers of congress. End of story. If only Obama would nominate Anita Hill to the high court.

    May 1, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. dace

    We already have an ultra conservative court full of bush extremist ideologues just to keep the current imbalance Obama has to put the most liberal justice in history just to keep it far right. So the hate mongers on the right should just be happy they still have one of the most activist hate courts in history – the kind that would make WWII Germany proud.

    May 1, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Jim

    In other words, they are preparing to say no to anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh.

    May 1, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    Hey guys, if you had won the election the pick might have been yours, but you didn't so – SHUT UP!

    May 1, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. Gymo

    I would love for women voters to see the Republicans, Senators and action committees beating up on a female nominee.
    They would never see the inside of Washington again nor even be elected dogcatcher.
    They have got to be planning this, you don't just destroy a political party by accident, goodbye GOP.

    May 1, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Kim in Arizona, FOR NOW

    Ah, you gottat LOVE the pure delusion of the right. Do they REALLY think Obama will listen to them? My GOD, they are just insane at this point! And FYI lady, its NOT a conservative court, its a BALANCED court. I know you would like to take away the rights of people to vote and just make this a conservative country, but I think you would have to be an idiot to think that is going to happen! This country has spoken, LOUD AND CLEAR, and they are NOT changing their minds. Your party is done, you no longer are able to kick and punch people around for fun. You MUST start adhering to the constitution, and this president is doing that! YOUR DIDNT!!!!!

    May 1, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    I am laughing so hard I can barely see. How are the conservatives going to fight this? Are they going to whine the rest of the senate into submission? Is anyone listening to them anymore?

    May 1, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    With a 60 vote filibuster proof majority in the Senate OBAMA WILL replace a liberal with a liberal. GOP can stay in EXILE and scratch their skulls!

    May 1, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Gene from Georgia

    Just accept it, GOP, the next Supreme Court justice is not going to be another brown shirt.

    May 1, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. David

    It's clear that it has come time that we pick the new US Supreme Court Justice through a reality tv show. I suggest that the Senate majority leader and the Senate minority leader each choose 5 candidates. Every week, each of those candidates will offer a ruling on a new case before it, and every week America votes for its favorite judge with the one with the lowest number of votes leaving until there is a winner. Now that's democratic!

    May 1, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Don't Pick This Fight GOP .... You'll Lose

    These are not conservatives .... they are racist, mysogynist, "Party-of-No" idealogues that can't stand the fact that the Supreme Court will get a new justice that embraces diversity of thought and experience in the context of the Constitution of the United States.

    Sonia Sotomayer will be a slam dunk. She is ..

    1.) extremeley experienced in the Federal Court System as a justice

    2.) was nominated to the federal judiciary by Daddy Bush

    3.) is a qualified woman ... you can't convince Americans that with 9 slots, and with women being 50% of the population, that the United States can not find more than 1 qualified woman to sit on the high court.

    4.) a Latina thereby broadening the courts foundational background for sound decisions to a new set of childhood, teen, young adult and adult "life experiences".

    5.) with a 60 vote majority in the Senate, if they Republicans try to Obstruct this selection, they will LOSE and all Americans will continue to see them as the Party of NO.

    May 1, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. RR

    Conservatives will not win this battle!

    May 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. didi.

    The right wing nut cases can rally all they want. Obama will likely pick a liberal and if possible a woman to fill the seat. So get over urselves.

    May 1, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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