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. fj

    so, let me get this straight......

    it's a bad thing for democrats to appoint "activist left-leaning" judges, but it's a good thing for republicans to appoint "activist right-leaning judges."

    i don't thnk that the u.s. populace is buying any of the radical right's "talking points" any more.

    good luck in 2010 – you're gonna' need it.

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

    God bless the conservatives. They really think they have a chance in hell of blocking Obama's nominee for Supreme Court (without even knowing who it will be). The conservatives remind me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in a way. Especially at the end when Butch and Sundance decide to fight their way out, only to be met by the entire Bolivian army. Who can forget Butch's famous last line "Oh, good. For a moment there I thought we were in trouble." Sounds like it might be the conservatives last line also.

    May 1, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Steph

    The thought of an even more conservative court that will attempt to tell me how to live my life scares the living crap out of this liberal. Don't think we won't fight for our rights!

    May 1, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. dina levine

    Well, hopefully the Republicans will speak up this time. The Democrats fight to the end about who the Republicans nominate pick and Republicans are too easy with going along.

    Looks like they're finally standing up for what they think. It took them long enough.

    May 1, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. Reilly Rix

    Republican fratricide. Sort of warms this democratic heart!

    May 1, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Da Professor

    "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"

    Golly gee, how I love this Republican infighting. Ok guys and girls, form the circle, now on the count of five, everybody fire their automatic weapons at one another. Get in line there Mr. Cheney. You know how to shoot someone. Show them how.

    This next few years are going to be so much fun as the Republicans fold their little tents and fade into the self-serving sunset.

    May 1, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Felly

    These GOP extremists (Party of No) are wasting their precious time. At the end of the day, Obama will appoint whoever is fit for the job.

    May 1, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Paul Dobro

    SO the conservatives feel Obama should replace a libreal leaning judge with a conservative one? And the same Republicans who complained about a fillabuster of Bush nominee are now will be doing the same?

    May 1, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Shirley In California

    Thank you Justice Souter for your work and dedication. You will be missed greatly. Let's hope our next justice just abides by the laws (already established) and handles (herself) professionally. Just about anyone liberal or conservative would be better than Thomas and Scalia.

    May 1, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Brendose, Oceanside, CA

    Guess what Republicans.........the tides have turned. You are the minority voice now. Get as many "committees" as possible together. Go ahead, waste your money. You had your time when Bush was in office.

    That time is over. The country wanted change from your polarizing political ways. If you don't like it, I heard you can move to the country of Texas, where Bush can be your President once again!

    May 1, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. David Newport, OR

    60 votes....why waste taxpayers money debating a non-issue?

    May 1, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. doug

    yea, that's right GOP, you just keep rallying your party around issues like gay marriage and gun rights, the rest of us will focus on the environment, education, and the economy from the seat of power.

    May 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Lynn

    Conservatives are always gearing up for a battle because they are living in the 20th century.

    Already hurling their insults at people who haven't even been nominated and when the ink isn't dry on Souter's resignation.

    Doesn't the constitution take an "extreme view" of the separation of church and state??

    May 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. marlene

    More media hype! Pres. Obama just interrupted the daily press conference to announce he had just talked by telephone, at 3pm, to Justice Souter, yet the speculation headlined all of the media! Before this is over, I will be sick of the discussion as the right opposes and the left defends, not to mention the special interest groups who promote one of their own. Marlene in Mich

    May 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Susan

    Wow, Conservatives just want absolute power to rule absolutely...god forbid anyone has a different opinion than a right wing radical. Get over the fact that not everyone believes in your god and not everyone HAS to.

    May 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Bill

    Umm, once again, you LOST the election.

    May 1, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Steve in C-Ville

    Can't these bottomfeeders at least wait until AFTER the president nominates a replacement before they try to divide the country and summon the worst of the human spirit?

    May 1, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Luke Brown

    What an enlightened and fair-minded group of "activists".

    Am I wrong, I thought we all want Obama to appoint someone who knows the Constitution and the Laws of our country.

    Hey Wendy Long and whoever else you conspire with, we are sick of your divisive tactics and wedge issues.

    Have a good day.

    May 1, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Jane

    What a surprise, conservatives again trying to be devisive – it's always about the ONLY point of view in their narrow perspective.

    May 1, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. Ia Guy

    He will be replaced with a moderate-left or just plain left judge. The extreme right needs to understand that they need to get with the times and soften some of their hard-core views if they are to survive.

    I believe all people should have a voice in government but there shouldn't be one group's agenda that is fully fulfilled. There has to be compromise and the far right is not yet willing to do that. I consider myself to be more moderate..agree to some limits on abortion (like an 7 month pregnancy is not acceptable), gay marriage rights, etc...

    Also, they can 'target' whomever they want. Obama will do as he sees fit. Many didn't want Hillary SOS...the list goes on and on. Just let him manage it.

    May 1, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. buckwheat

    There won't be a battle on Supreme Court judges. Everyone that goes in will be Liberal as hell. When this is over the welfare system will be twice as big as it is now and twice as many more will be sucking on the freebees.That is the Liberal way to win elections. Promise everything and your votes will be there. I think all candidates and voters that are Conservative should switch to the Democrat party ,elect all Democrats, and sit on our rear end and suck on the system till it goes dry. Why the hell should we work. Millions are now living everyday courtesy of the working dumb taxpayers in this country.

    May 1, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Cato

    It's funny how there is only a 'litmus test' for Republicans when it is if the test has to do with the issues that they don't agree with. Kind of like it is never 'class warfare' when the laws are holding down the poor and less fortunate...but it IS when they well healed in this country are made to pay their fare share!

    May 1, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Marc M

    Why would you need to push hard against a conservative court?

    That is what this country needs, a court that upholds the law, not creates them.

    May 1, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Brian

    Conservative judges suck.

    May 1, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. joe

    How about somebody who actually knows the Constitution rather than somebody who believes in some book written by a 14th century BC bronze age tribe of desert nomads?

    May 1, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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