April 11th, 2010
04:18 PM ET
13 years ago

Barbour: Obama, Congress 'the most liberal' ever

(CNN) – As Washington girds itself for another Supreme Court confirmation battle, a prominent Republican is predicting that President Obama will use his second high court pick to try to push the court in as liberal a direction as possible – in a reflection of Democrats’ liberal tendencies.

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens announced Friday that he intends to step down later this year, stirring speculation about who Obama will appoint during a midterm election year when Democrats already appear to be facing a challenging political environment.

“The president’s going to appoint a liberal successor to Justice Stevens who's one of the most liberal members of the Supreme Court,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Barbour added that he thought Obama is going to “appoint the most liberal person that he can and he thinks he can get confirmed. And that, that person will be a liberal. That’s just a fact.”

The former RNC chairman and current chairman of the Republican Governors Association told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process will affect November’s midterm elections by reminding the public where Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress sit on the political spectrum.

“Do I think it'll affect the election?,” he said. “Only to the sense that it reminds the American people of something they already know - that this is far and away the most liberal administration that we've ever had in the White House, and candidly, in the Congress.”

Barbour noted that historically both liberals and conservatives have used Supreme Court vacancies to stir up support and enthusiasm within their respective bases. But he said that Republicans may not need the extra boost that will likely come from a high court confirmation battle during a midterm election year.

“The good thing for Republicans right now is we’ve got plenty of energy,” Barbour told Crowley. “The policies of this administration and this Congress have energized our people.”

Asked whether Senate Republicans should oppose Obama’s nominee at all costs and risk taking on “the party of no” label being pushed by Democrats, Barbour was indifferent.

“I’m not worried about ‘the party of no,’ as long as we’re saying no to what the American people know are bad policies,” Barbour said. “The American people will reward you for trying to stop something they think is bad.”

But Barbour was quick to add that no one knows yet who the president will nominate to replace Justice Stevens.

soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. b in FL

    Just another of the day in, day out, GOP talking points. They sure come together with their laundry lists of words for the week. This week "most liberal", next week the return of "socialism", the following week "weak president" and on and on we go! One would think the Repubs learned a lesson from getting slaughtered in 2006 and 2008 but they've only proven they are very slow learners.

    April 11, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. pcoop3

    thanks Barbour for telling us something that every high school student could have figured out...the short term memory of Republicans is really reaching epidemic proportions. Who did Bush put on the court again?

    April 11, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Adam, CO

    What does Gov. Haley Barbour expect - Obama to choose a right leaning conservative judge? Bush did that with his two appointees and look at what wonderful gift the SCOTUS gave back to America.... Corporations now being able to fully contribute to election funds... brilliant!
    Ahh, but who cares what a gov from Mississippi has to say?

    April 11, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. John in Tampa

    I do wish he'd stop using the word 'liberal' like an expletive.

    April 11, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. in Oregon

    Yes, the replacement will be a liberal, because Justice Stevens was a liberal. The court needs to be balanced, just like everything else.

    April 11, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Kitty Parker, Charleston, SC

    Why would it be a surprise or a problem when Obama appoints a liberal; the GOP had no problem when George Bush appointed far-right conservatives. That is the name of the game; each side appoints what they want and hopefully they balance out so the public and the country get some centrist opinions rather than either extreme.

    April 11, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Peter Vaguely

    It should br clear to everyone that the Republican Party has decided on it's message. They are all saying exactly the same thing. President Obama and Congress are the most radical, liberal bunch that ever governed. What a joke. The GOP are the most obstructionist, negative, politically self serving bunch to ever screw up our country. Now that the economy is being restored and Health Care reform is passed they are scared to death that the Democrats WILL succeed without them. Hypocrites!

    April 11, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Mark

    He's correct. Obama is the most radical, liberal president ever. He is ruining this country.

    April 11, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. Jim in Georgia

    Would it surprise anyone that a liberal would appoint a liberal? I didn't expect George W. to appoint anyone but a consiverative when he had the chance. When it's your turn, it's your turn.

    April 11, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. Bobby

    Who are the GOP fooling? They would nominate the most right-wing judge if they could. They are just bitter about losing the election.

    April 11, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. More Talking Points

    First off, Justice Stevens was appointed by a Republican and as he himself said, he did not become a liberal, the Republicans became extreme conservatives.

    Second, Bush's picks, are some of the most extreme constructionist right-wing tools to ever sit on the court.

    Yet, Congress did not filibuster them and allowed them to be confirmed despite their extreme views (granting corporations the same rights as individuals, siding with big business at every turn and pandering to the right-wing base).

    So give me a break. Obama is like CLinton, a moderate Democrat (which I guess to the wacky right-wing fringe tea partiers and christian fundamentalists is a "liberal".) Ted Kennedy was a liberal, Obama is far from it.

    What do you expect from a group of people that think Facist and Socialist are the same thing. LOL.

    April 11, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. psk

    The energy of the Republican Party is directed at trying to corral the Tea Party. Where are the Rockefeller moderate Republicans? Maybe they should listen to Nancy Pelosi and take back their party.

    April 11, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Charles W. Skinner

    Jeaton – Justice Scalia was appointed during the REAGAN administration, when the Democrat party controlled the Senate.

    April 11, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Brook

    But everyone knows that Reality has a Liberal bias!

    April 11, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Charlie in Maine

    Or as my pal Stephen Colbert likes to say. The truth has a liberal bias. It only seems the most liberal because it comes after the GOP took a hard turn towards , well, I acn't even say conservative because cinservatives make sense. that GOP lead Congress had taken a turn to the stupid. The correction looks liberal but the healthcare reform was similar to Nixon's

    April 11, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Dave

    Haley Barbour has a lot of nerve criticizing ANYONE after what he's done to our state. I live in Mississippi, and I can vouch for how incompetent this man and his policies have been. My work place is now on a holding pattern for the next two years because of this fool running his mouth. We had a budget and were ready to expand and advance, but Barbour started trying to block funding and now Mississippi businesses are stalling. Plus, Haley Barbour funneled Katrina relief funds to his brother Jeppie, after setting up fake corporations. Haley Barbour is the worst thing to ever happen to the State of Mississippi, and it's completely absurd to me that he may be thinking of running for president. What's his campaign going to be: "I can do for you what I did for Mississippi?" We're last in EVERYthing, and that's only gotten worse under Barbour's tenure. He is a disgrace!

    April 11, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Jeff in Houston

    As if Republicans woudl not do the same thing. They would pick the best judge corporate money could buy, so they would have the best court money can buy, like the one they purchased to get Geroge II crowned. They would pick one that would make sueprstitious ignorant savages sleep better at night and call it religion. They would pick a judge that would make sure that the average American stay in their place, never getting ahead.

    Say what you will about Obama and hsi selections, they are indeed a breath of fresh air, made by an educated man, and a party that cares more about the common man than any Republican ever did, even if they wrap themselves in the flag and kiss their Bibles.

    With a liberal, we still have hope. Give me a liberal any day.

    April 11, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  18. Arnie

    I am watching your money on CNN. The national debt quadrupled over the last 3 administration and was not under a Democratic Administration. It was under the so call fiscal conservatives (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush). Under the Clinton Administration the country was operating under a surplus. Hypocrisy is at a high time high in our politics. Some one should take a poll on that.. This is scary to allow these guys to talk themselves back into office. I am not voting for them ever again. We as people really need to wake up and look at the facts. Quit listening to sound bites. Have an open mind and do your research. The truth hurts but it makes you free!

    April 11, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. Pete

    Liberal is a GOOD word. I'd be ashamed to call my self "conservative." How embarrassing.

    April 11, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. Larry, PA

    I hope he does pick a liberal progressive. Not Kagan. Maybe Wood or someone even more to the left. Chances are he won't and will leave office with a SCOTUS more to the right than when he came into office. My argument if that no matter who he picks – even if it is Kagan, who is no liberal – the GOP will paint the person as a crazy unAmerican left-winger out to destroy everything we know and love about America. So why not go ahead and appoint a bonafide left-winger and be done with it!? If they can appoint Alito, I think it right that we can appoint a liberal version of Alito to balance out the court. And after November, Obama will never get another chance and will have to go with a moderate to replace Ginsburg.

    April 11, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. Ken

    I can never understand why the term "liberal" is considered a negative. Not one idea that has progressed the world has ever been a "conservatives" thought. By definition a conservative abhors change. Without a "liberal" presence in the world we would still all be serfs serving the lord of the manse. Quite likely there is a few GOP supporters out there who believe this is the way it should be. Appointing a qualified individual should be the only criteria. Whoever it is couldn't be anymore of a dullard than Clarence Thomas.

    April 11, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. The Clear Thinking Indepedent

    Stevens is the same man he was when he was nominated in 1975 by a Republican President. At that time, he was a moderate.

    Through a very calculated plan, the Republicans since have hijacked the court, shoving it to the hard right with justices such as Scalia to force it to be a conservative bastion.

    It is the court that moved, not Stevens. Americans can only hope that President Obama DOES nominate someone MORE liberal than Stevens to rebalance the universe.

    It is interesting to note that Clarence Thomas was confirmed with only 52 votes and opposed by 48. It would seem that with 57 Democratic senators, President Obama can nominate whomever he wants.

    April 11, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. carole

    I don't think the GOP even knows what "liberal" is anymore. They are so deeply entrenched in their corporate-lovin', worker-hatin', selfish,
    ignorant ways that they see anything to the left of their beloved
    Sarah or Michelle as liberal. Their political operatives made a plan
    to suck up to wealthy donors and just plain "scare" the less educated among us. This just keeps getting crazier and crazlier. It's long past time for the news media to start pointing out
    distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies for what they are.
    It's time for the media to talk about what a true centrist Pres.
    Obama really is. Right now you're giving this kind of talk a free
    pass to the detriment of true journalism and to the detriment of this
    great country. By the way, I expect this to hold true for all politicians,
    not just Republicans.

    April 11, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Scott

    Wow, this guy is a real genius. REALLY? A president will appoint someone that shares his ideals to the high court? It's idiotic statements like this that is the reason why the american people are tired, tired, tired of politics. You mean to tell me in 20 of the last 30 years repubs didn't do the same? And it's not a repub of dem thing – it's an opinion thing. Who would appoint someone that wouldn't share their ideals?

    April 11, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. gcole

    I am impressed. He managed to work in the word liberal 8 times. He must love us liberals:)

    April 11, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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