Gary Marx

Faith and Freedom Coalition Warns Democracy No Longer Exists As A Result Of Gay Marriage Cases

Faith and Freedom Coalition executive director Gary Marx has written a column for the Christian Post in which he claims that the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 have made our democracy only an illusion. After accusing the court of “dismantling American democracy” in their gay rights decisions, Marx lambastes the justices for turning America into “a nation where democracy is a mere visual effect used to spawn a perception of self-rule that no longer ultimately exists.”

“The Supreme Court has now served notice to liberty advocates that it is game on,” Marx writes. Despite the fact that a majority of Americans favor marriage equality, he claims that “traditional marriage activists” actually “vastly outnumber their opponents” and will prevent the court’s attempt “to trump the political will and wisdom of its citizens.”

If there was any doubt that the Supreme Court of the United States continues to vastly overextend its powers in ways that are dismantling American democracy and liberty, this summer's decisions striking down a core component of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and remanding California's Proposition 8 should settle the question.

How great is this threat? Put it this way: No component of American liberty or democracy is inherently safe if, as it did earlier this week, the highest court in our land is permitted to trump Constitutional principles and the political will of the American people with a progressive political and social agenda rooted in neither.



The stakes in this current cause could not be much higher. When a portion of the Supreme Court can flippantly toss aside the political will of the people on issues that are rightfully empowered to the people to decide, as this Court now has done, we no longer reside in a nation guided by our people and laws. Rather, America becomes a nation where democracy is a mere visual effect used to spawn a perception of self-rule that no longer ultimately exists.

This is the bad news for liberty loving Americans. But the Supreme Court's rulings bring good news too. Contrary to the image depicted in mainstream media, the American people are awakening to the reality of its elitist, progressive courts – and it is a reality, as Justice Antonin Scalia properly argued in his dissenting view on DOMA, that is "jaw dropping". In striking down the will of elected Members of Congress and a President of the United States (with DOMA) and the people of California (with its Proposition 8 ruling), the Supreme Court has now served notice to liberty advocates that it is game on. That is a calling that the American people will surely answer.

Additionally and importantly, the rulings in no way settle much of anything as it relates to the future of traditional marriage. DOMA may be no longer, but we at the Faith and Freedom Coalition intend to work with its advocates and a growing grassroots movement of Americans who support its principles, to ensure its basic tenets are otherwise upheld. The rulings also will certainly further inspire the efforts of traditional marriage activists, who now vastly outnumber their opponents, to work to elect state and federal legislators who will defend the treasured and traditional definition of marriage while ensuring that the nation's courts no longer serve to trump the political will and wisdom of its citizens.

CPAC Reject McDonnell Welcomed at Religious Right Prayer Breakfast

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress.

Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast.  McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a transportation plan in Virginia that activists say violates a campaign pledge against raising taxes.  Public Advocate also complained that by praising the General Assembly’s approval of a gay district court nominee, McDonnell “BROKE HIS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.”

Inside the prayer breakfast, McDonnell (like the Coalition’s Executive Director Gary Marx an alum of Pat Robertson’s Regent University) was introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes and warmly received.  McDonnell gave a talk that was light on conservative red meat and focused on themes of faith and service, urging activists to pray for humility and wisdom.  He did say it is the job of public officials to get things done according to “Judeo-Christian principles.”  And he cited George Washington saying that the nation could not expect “the smiles of heaven” if it abandoned “eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself have ordained.”

Forbes, a leader of the congressional prayer caucus, said our nation’s problem is that God belongs on the throne, we’ve taken Him off, and we need to put Him back up there.  Forbes resorted to a caricature common among Religious Right leaders, complaining about people he said were trying to change the concept of church-state separation to mean that no one in government can speak about their faith and no one in church can talk about the government.

Also speaking was Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who invoked a mural of the radical abolitionist John Brown that portrays him with a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other, and the tornado of the civil war approaching. He called the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception a “tremendous threat” and an attack of religious liberty. “What would John Brown be doing now?” he asked, suggesting that Brown would be on his knees in prayer but also on his feet demanding action from Congress.  Huelskamp complained that his colleagues in Congress are not acting to protect religious liberty, and denounced their “deafening silence” on threats to marriage. Huelskamp has previously complained to Tony Perkins about “the folks on the left that would like to delete, exclude and repeal any religious liberties or any religious values throughout our entire government and our entire society.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative activist, author, and Real World: San Francisco alum who is married to Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, talked about the dangers of churches and families having ceded territory to “an ever-expanding and insatiable government.” For example, Campos said, school breakfast programs for poor students give parents an excuse not to make breakfast for their own kids and just push them out the door rather than talking to them.

Ralph Reed didn’t make the breakfast, but Gary Marx delivered a version of Reed’s post-2012 “it’s not my fault” analysis. Marx ran through statistics on the millions of contacts the Faith & Freedom Coalition made with the 23.3 million evangelical and Catholic voters in its proprietary database, and he said five million more evangelicals voted in 2012 than in 2008, with 78 percent of them voting for Romney. He said the group is actively engaged in this year’s Virginia elections and pledged that 2014 will see the largest mid-term conservative turnout ever.

The breakfast opened with a prayer by Father John De Celles of St. Raymond Penafort Roman Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia, and closed with a benediction from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America, who called for a reaffirmation of our “national identity” as a “Judeo-Christian nation” and denounced those who threaten the country from within by trying to "dismantle" that heritage and usurp God’s will.

Footnote: Among the VIP attendees acknowledged from the podium was conservative mega-donor Foster Friess, who backed Rick Santorum’s presidential bid but who has more recently encouraged a more moderate approach to LGBT issues, which he has said is due to his familiarity with gay people, including his brother-in-law and his partner.  There was no mention at the breakfast of news that broke last night about Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on marriage after his son came out to him. 

Huntsman Signs Up For Faith and Freedom Conference

Republican presidential aspirants continue to flock to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. Reed today announced that former Utah governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will speak to the group’s Conference and Strategy Briefing on June 3rd. Other GOP presidential contenders addressing the gathering include Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, along with Donald Trump, House GOP leaders John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan, and numerous Republican congressmen.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition seems to be the restoration of Reed’s Christian Coalition, and he has focused on building a presence in key primary and general election states like Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Despite Reed’s duplicitous and corrupt background, Republicans persistently seek his support. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today profiled the group’s plans for the 2012 election and collaborations with the Tea Party movement:

"We anticipate we're going to knock on over 2 million doors," Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, told CBN News.

"We're going to register between 1 million and 2 million new voters so we're going to add 1 to 2 million new voters," he predicted. "And then we'll end up contacting somewhere between 25 and 40 million voters."



The Faith & Freedom Coalition doesn't just focus on social issues. Leaders know that fiscal concerns are huge and will be a major priority but they don't plant to co-opt the Tea Party movement.

"We're saying to them you need to continue to be who you are as Tea Party leaders," conservative strategist Gary Marx told CBN News. "At the same time, there are areas where we can work together and be allied -- like the example of cutting abortion funding for groups like Planned Parenthood," he said.

Christian Coalition 2.0, Or The Triumphant Return of Ralph Reed

Literally, just yesterday as I was doing my right-wing monitoring, I thought to myself "you know who's name I never see any more?  Ralph Reed."

And for good reason, given his deep ties to Jack Abramoff.  Actually, the last time he made any news was when he was forced to skip a fund-raiser with John McCain last year thanks to the fact that he has been permanently tainted by his association with Abramoff.

But, as Dan Gilgoff reports, Reed is now back with a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition:

Ralph Reed, the Republican operative who built the Christian Coalition into a potent political force in the 1990s by mobilizing evangelicals and other religious conservatives and who did similar work to help George W. Bush win two presidential elections, is quietly launching a group aimed at using the Web to mobilize a new generation of values voters. In addition to targeting the GOP's traditional faith-based allies—white evangelicals and observant Catholics—the group, called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics, blacks, young people, and women.

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday. "It's got to be more brown, more black, more female, and younger. It's critical that we open the door wide and let them know if they share our values and believe in the principles of faith and marriage and family, they're welcome."

"There's a whole rising generation of young leaders in the faith community, and rather than nab the publicity I did at Christian Coalition, I want to cultivate and train that rising generation," Reed said. "One question is, who is our future Barack Obama, doing local organizing just like he was in the 1990s?"

The Faith and Freedom Coalition has been quietly active for a few weeks but has attracted no news media notice so far. Reed said that was intentional: "We're less focused on the pyrotechnics than on being a strong grass-roots presence all the way down to the precinct level, which has always been my emphasis."

The idea for the new group, which is still hashing out an organizational blueprint, was born just after Election Day 2008, when exit polls showed that Obama made gains among traditionally Republican religious constituencies, including evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and frequent churchgoers. "Since I left the Christian Coalition, we haven't had an engine designed to turn out this large part of the vote," Reed said. "After the election, people said that I ought to consider doing something about it."

Of course, the Christian Coalition was the engine that turned out "values voters," but it faltered under Reed's control. When he finally jumped ship to launch his own consulting and PR operation and "start humping in corporate accounts,” the organization all but collapsed.

Gilgoff reports that this new effort also features Gary Marx - who happens to be a long-time associate of Reed's and the current Executive Director of the Judicial Confirmation Network - and that, for now, the organization is operating out of his Century Strategies office in Atlanta:

Reed is serving as chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and says he has filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to register it as a 501(c)(4), a tax-free designation that permits lobbying and certain political activities. Gary Marx, Reed's deputy at the 2004 Bush campaign and Mitt Romney's conservative outreach director in 2008, will help advise the group. Jack St. Martin, a former top Republican National Committee staffer, is running day-to-day operations.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition plans to launch state and local chapters, as the Christian Coalition did, but is exploring the idea of organizing as much via "virtual chapters" that would operate online with the help of social networking technology. "The Internet's first wave was E-mail, and the next wave was social networking, which Obama perfected," Reed said. "There's going to be a third wave, which we're still developing."

...

Headquartered in the offices of Reed's consulting firm, Century Strategies, near Atlanta, the group plans to open a Washington office but says it will keep its staff small. St. Martin is currently the only full-time employee. "We don't want the huge overhead of a centralized group," says St. Martin, who worked at the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. "We'll have a few generals, but at the end of the day, we're going to emphasize putting boots on the ground out in the field."

Everything about this effort is pure Ralph Reed. From the focus on grassroots mobilization to his use of military language, it sounds like Reed is breaking out his Christian Coalition era playbook and seeking to recapture his former glory, even going so far as to dust off his efforts to reach out to minority groups, which, as I explained in a report [PDF] I wrote about him several years back that chronicled his rise from the College Republicans through his Abramoff-related downfall, is exactly what he tried and failed to do during his last days with the Christian Coalition:

In 1996, in an attempt to reach out to religious African American voters and bring them into the right wing movement, Reed announced that the Coalition was going to raise one million dollars to help rebuild black churches in the South that had been destroyed in a series of fire bombings. What had initially been planned as a one-day fundraising event ended up taking seven months. Similarly, Reed announced in 1997 the creation of the Samaritan Project, “A bold plan to break the color line and bridge the gap that separates white evangelicals and Roman Catholics from their Latino and African American brothers and sisters.” Reed pledged that the Coalition would raise $10 million for inner city churches, but less than a year later the project was abandoned after raising less than $50,000.

The simple point needs to be made that Reed, the man once dubbed "the Right Hand of God," had been seening his star dim even before he left the Christian Coalition and that the influence and power he had accumulated over the years all but evaporated when his efforts to exploit his Religious Right allies for Jack Abramoff's business purposes were finally revealed, culminating in his failed campaign to secure the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia.

But, as we pointed out in our report: "Reed is still young and American politics is full of redemption stories. No doubt Reed is already writing his."

And with the announcement of this new effort, it looks like that is exactly what he is undertaking now.

SCOTUS Round-Up

Several related articles today, all pretty much saying the same thing:  even though right-wing groups are doubtful that they’ll actually be able to defeat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, they are raising lots of money to try and do so anyway and, in doing so, hope to make it an issue in the 2010 elections.

The New York Times:

While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.

“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”

Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said donors, whom he declined to identify, had committed to contributing millions of dollars for television, radio and Internet advertisements that might reunite conservatives in a confirmation battle.

Conservatives face big obstacles, though, in rousing supporters or spurring Republican lawmakers to mount an all-out fight.

The movement is much diminished from four years ago under President George W. Bush, when Supreme Court vacancies last arose and conservatives marshaled their forces to champion his nominees. (Judge Richard Posner, a prominent Reagan appointee, wrote recently that the conservative movement suffers from “intellectual deterioration.”) Republicans have lost control of the White House and Congress, have no clear party leader and have received low approval ratings.

And some leading groups are having budget woes. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based evangelical group led by the semi-retired James C. Dobson, rallied social conservatives in support of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees, but it recently cut more than 200 jobs.

The conservative movement is sharing its resources as it prepares for the nomination. The Judicial Action Group, founded in 2006 and based in Alabama, has organized a research network — dubbed the Supreme Court Review Committee — of about 15 “pro-family ministries” and conservative legal groups, said Phillip Jauregui, president of the group.

 

Manuel Miranda, who has led conference calls for conservative groups about judges, said the focus on such issues would present “a great opportunity to really prepare the great debate with a view toward Senate elections in 2010 and the presidency.”

“It isn’t just about the nominee,” he said. “It’s about the fact that the American people gave control of presidency to a Democrat who will appoint a certain type of judge and the Senate that will most likely rubber stamp that choice.”

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family’s political arm, said he believed that despite conservatives’ recent political troubles in other arenas, the public still prefers their judicial philosophy.

“This is an issue that if Americans focus on it, it will bring out their conservative side,” he said. “And that could help the political fortunes of conservatives in the future.”

The Washington Times:

Republicans are going on offense to tarnish potential Supreme Court justice hopefuls, attempting to spark an early fight over President Obama's first nomination to the high court.

Wendy Long and Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network penned a memo for activists on the issue last week, predicting, "The first Obama nominee to the Supreme Court will be hailed by Democrats, liberal interest groups and many in the media as a 'moderate.' No matter how liberal, activist, or extreme she may be."

They said they have crafted a video to "expose the liberal activist records of those who have been named as front-runners to fill Justice [David H.] Souter's seat."

Scott Wheeler, executive director for the National Republican Trust PAC, sent a letter to Republican senators, warning that activists "will hold them accountable" for the nomination process, so they should "keep steadfast and stay true to your Republican conservative values and beliefs."

Mr. Wheeler also went after Mr. Obama's empathy standards, saying that because they "have nothing to do with interpreting the law or the rule of law ... It is up to you and your fellow Republican colleagues to stop such a nomination."

The Washington Independent:

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a number of catch phrases they want to apply to Supreme Court nominees. “We will continue to be using the metaphor of the neutral umpire,” said Marx, echoing the language used by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in his 2005 confirmation hearing. Marx listed two other qualifications a justice should possess: “judicial restraint” and “not legislating from the bench.”

He also pulled out a Biblical reference to make his point. King Solomon, he said, did not need “empathy” or “compassion” to resolve the famous baby case. “Was that compassionate?” he asked rhetorically. “No, it was wisdom.”

Despite their success in determining which terms have come to dominate the debate, conservatives acknowledge that their purpose may not be so much to block the confirmation of a justice as to score political and perhaps fundraising points for future elections.

Marx says that the confirmation debate will have “three huge implications”: it will educate the American people about the issues, help them understand Obama’s true political philosophy and set the stage for the 2010 U.S. Senate campaigns.

According to [Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundtion], the effects of this battle could extend to 2012 as well. “Whoever this nominee’s going to be,” he said, “if the court moves forward on gay marriage or restricts the Second Amendment or goes forward with another change that’s unpopular among the American public… that’s something that will affect the president’s reelection bid.”

Still, the game is likely to change considerably when Obama announces his nominee. “To be honest, I think this is all noise,” Darling conceded. “It will become completely irrelevant when the nominee is put forth.”

Finally, the Right sees signs of hope for its chances of stopping Obama’s SCOTUS nominee in their obstruction of Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation: 

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, says the stalled Johnsen nomination should send President Obama the message that he does not have a free hand to appoint someone "extreme" to the Supreme Court, even when there are 59 or 60 Democrats in the Senate.
 
"Dawn Johnsen was an executive branch appointee to the Department of Justice. They get more deference, not less, from the Senate than judicial nominees," he notes. "So, if he were to appoint somebody anywhere near as extreme as Dawn Johnsen to the Supreme Court, the nominee would very likely not be confirmed by the Senate."
 
A bold but unlikely pick for Obama, according to Levey, would be black Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who is a friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and is more moderate than the other potential High Court picks whose names have been floated. 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Both the NRCC and the RNC have responded to Arlen Specter's defection with a rousing "good riddance" ... and a plea for donations.
  • Mike Huckabee responded to the news by saying it just goes to prove the importance of his PAC and electing "Republicans who will not sell their values for votes."
  • Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Liberty Council, and others have officially come out in opposition to the confirmation of David Hamilton, while Gary Marx says Hamilton's nomination "does not bode well" for their hopes that Obama would nominate moderates.
  • It looks like Michael Steele's control over the RNC is getting weaker by the day.
  • Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List all say that, despite Kathleen Sebelius's confirmation, they are not giving up the fight.
  • You know what we don't see enough of?  Gambling interests attacking the Christian Coalition for its hypocrisy.
  • WorldNetDaily profiles Michael Ferris, the man who made home-school popular, founded Patrick Henry College, and drafted the Parental Rights Amendment.
  • Once again I must ask: can Michelle Bachmann go one day without saying something moronic?  And once again the answer is no.
  • Right-wing anti-marriage darling Carrie Prejean was hobnobbing at Liberty University today with Jerry Falwell Jr. before heading off to join Matt Barber and Mat Staver on their radio program, thus officially completing her transformation from D-list celebrity to A-list Religious Right hero.

Will the Judicial Confirmation Network Stick to its Pledge?

Shortly after the election, we noted that the Judicial Confirmation Network, which had been founded with the express purpose of helping to get President Bush’s judicial nominees confirmed, was starting to sing a different tune, proclaiming that the burden would now be upon President Obama and his nominees to prove that they are qualified to sit upon the federal bench and issuing an ominous warning that “senators will be accountable for [their] votes.”

At the time, it appeared as if the JCN’s mission was about to shift from one of working to get judges confirmed to one of working to ensure that they didn’t get confirmed.  But in a letter to the editor in the Washington Times, JCN Executive Director Gary Marx says that under President Obama the organization’s mission will remain the same:

The Judicial Confirmation Network was founded, in part, to support the principle that every nominee who goes to the full Senate deserves an up-or-down vote. We did not support this principle out of some amorphous notion of "bipartisanship," but rather, we believe it is the duty of the Senate to perform its constitutional role in the judicial-selection process. The Constitution is quite clear on this role, and nowhere does it require a supermajority for confirmation of the president's nominees.

If the Senate abides by the historical procedural rules governing the confirmation process, the Judicial Confirmation Network intends to stick to its principles and urge up-or-down votes - even on nominees we may oppose. It would be quite understandable if Republican senators felt otherwise - most have had extensive experience with Democratic promises of reciprocity.

Of course, the meaning of this pledge relies heavily on what Marx considers to be “the historical procedural rules governing the confirmation process” – Curt Levey of the equally right-wing Committee for Justice suggests that Marx means “those rules include respect for blue slip privileges.”

So now the question becomes which “historical procedural rules” regarding the blue slip does Marx mean; the rules Republicans had in place when Bill Clinton was President or the different ones they implemented when George W. Bush became president?

It was, on the whole, an unusual display of Democratic solidarity. On April 27, all nine Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- backed, according to ranking member Patrick Leahy, by the entire Democratic caucus -- signed a letter to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales about George W. Bush's proposed nominations to the federal bench. "We are not going to be rolled over," promised New York's Charles Schumer, who called the letter a "shot across the bow." The confirmation process, warned Leahy, "may grind to a screeching halt."

But not because Gonzales and Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch were planning to fill several dozen of the nearly 100 vacancies on the federal bench with staunch conservatives. No, the offense at hand was far more grave: At a confirmation hearing in early April, Hatch had hinted that he might change an obscure policy called the "blue slip," which senators have traditionally used to exercise near-veto power over judicial nominees. During the Clinton years, any one senator could block any candidate from his or her home state (by refusing to return a memo of approval printed, literally, on a blue slip of paper); under George W. Bush, Hatch informed the Democrats, a veto would require the opposition of both home-state senators -- a substantial dilution of a treasured prerogative of office.

The JCN says it will continue to press for up-or-down votes on judges that it opposes and so, for now, we’ll just have to take them at their word despite that fact that it seems exceedingly unlikely that it will actually do so once the battle over judicial nominations inevitably heats up.

One Press Release Per Year Enough for Fox News

Back when the issue of judicial confirmations was heating up in the Senate, at the center of the Republican efforts to confirm controversial nominees was Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Justice.   As a member of the “Four Horsemen” along with C. Boyden Gray, Edwin Meese III, and Leonard Leo, Sekulow was a inside player in the battle over the “nuclear option” and the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. 

Along the way, Sekulow created a new group called The Judicial Confirmation Network that was designed to give the appearance of grassroots support for the efforts:

It was a subtle bit of targeting that dovetailed with another project under way in an office just above the radio studio. That's where Gary A. Marx, head of the grass-roots arm of Mr. Sekulow's campaign, was meeting with a Maine activist ginning up telephone calls, letters and editorials aimed at pushing Ms. Collins into the antifilibuster camp.

In the 2004 campaign, Mr. Marx, 29, was the Bush-Cheney national conservative coalition director who helped organize church-sponsored voter drives in Ohio. In January, Mr. Sekulow invited Mr. Marx to set up the Judicial Confirmation Network in his offices so they could combine forces.

Mr. Sekulow uses his Senate contacts to track the status of the debate and identify wavering lawmakers. While he targets them on the radio or through his regular emails, Mr. Marx follows up with state-based groups that can be important to a senator's political career.

The JCN quickly made a name for itself, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the efforts only to become little more than a shell once the battles were over.  Little was heard from its two employees, Gary Marx and Wendy Long, until both showed up on Mitt Romney’s National Faith and Values Steering Committee and, in the meantime, the JCN essentially went dark, having not even issued a press release since July of 2007.   Until today, that is, when Long resurfaced to attack Barack Obama for his answer during a question at Rick Warren’s faith forum about which Supreme Court judges he would not have nominated:

All this speaks volumes about the kind of judges Obama would appoint, and the way he would fill several potential vacancies at the Supreme Court that could arise during the next President's term in office. Obama wants Justices who will do his bidding, who will implement the preferred policies of the liberal establishment - not Justices like Thomas, Scalia, Roberts and Alito, who understand that the role of a judge is not to legislate from the bench.

But that was apparently enough to get her quoted at length in an article on FoxNews.com:

“Apparently, Obama can do no better than to recycle discredited statements of Harry Reid when it comes to Justice Thomas. Like other liberal elites, Obama cannot stand it when a black man strays from the ideological plantation and refuses to implement liberal policies through the courts. But Obama will never point out any intellectual deficiencies in Justice Thomas’s work, because he can’t. Justice Thomas’s opinions consistently reveal faithfulness to the Constitution, judicial modesty and deference to the will of the people in our representative democracy. That is opposed to everything that Obama and the liberals are trying to do in grabbing power from the people and giving it to the courts,” she said.

Playing the Racist Card, Again

It seems as if Gary Marx has managed to pull himself away from his $8,000-a-month position with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to pen an action alert in his capacity as Executive Director of the Judicial Confirmation Network to urge supporters to contact their senators and demand a vote on the nomination of Leslie Southwick:

The Liberal Left led by Senator Ted Kennedy, Minority Leader Harry Reid, and People for the American Way will stop at nothing in order to keep common sense constitutionalist judges like Leslie Southwick off the bench. Ultimately, their unprecedented judicial filibusters are a backdoor political sabotage to manipulate the Senate rules. Their goal is to create a radical new precedent where for the first time in history a future Supreme Court nominee like Justice Roberts or Alito will be forced to receive 60 votes for confirmation rather than a simple and fair majority vote.

The vote on whether to filibuster Judge Southwick is likely to occur this week ... possibly as early as Wednesday. This is our last chance to make our voice heard. The time to call your Senators' offices is today!

Marx then encourages activists to take the time to read an op-ed penned by his partner at the JCN, Wendy Long - who, like Marx, serves on Romney’s National Faith and Values Steering Committee – in which she trots out the Right’s standard claim that those who raise concerns about Southwick’s judicial record and philosophy are really just calling Southwick a racist:

Just when you thought "white male in the South" didn't equal "presumptive racist," a disgusting spectacle with that familiar theme is unfolding in the United States Senate.

[Senator Richard] Durbin is doing essentially what [Duke Prosecutor Mike] Nifong and [Al] Sharpton did: attacking someone else as a racist in order to advance his own political agenda. Never mind the facts, never mind the law, just play the race card against a white man in the south and you know you have a good chance to bring him down.

It seems that whenever anyone dares to oppose any of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Right sees some nefarious ulterior motive at work – and that is how they manage to convince themselves that opposition to Southwick stems not from concerns about his record but from some sort of deep-seeded hatred of Southern white males … the same way they said opposition to Miguel Estrada was really due to anti-Latino prejudice … and opposition to Priscilla Owen was the result of flagrant anti-woman bias … and opposition to William Pryor was actually due to anti-Catholic bigotry … and opposition to Janice Rogers Brown was in actuality rooted in racism.    

Romney Names High-Profile Supporters to Religious-Right Committee

Mitt Romney has been aggressively courting the Religious Right for months, slowly recruiting supporters from among the cadre of full-time activists. Earlier this year he scored Pat Robertson’s superlawyer Jay Sekulow, along with Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network and James Bopp, a prominent anti-abortion attorney.

Last week Romney’s campaign announced the formation of its National Faith and Values Steering Committee, a list of 50 better- and lesser- known religious-right figures. Among the co-chairmen of the committee are Sekulow, Marx, Bopp, Matthew Spaulding of the Heritage Foundation, Barbara Comstock of the Susan B. Anthony List (an anti-abortion PAC), and Jack Templeton, head of the Templeton Foundation and Let Freedom Ring – suggesting the kind of “values” Romney hopes to be absorbing from this caucus.

Most newsworthy was the endorsement of Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition and one of the most fervently anti-gay activists in the country. Nicknamed “Lucky Louie” by imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who directed a gambling company to donate generously to TVC in exchange for support on legislation, Sheldon is the author of “The Agenda: The Homosexual Plan to Change America,” an agenda he describes as “an attack on everything our Founding Fathers hoped to give us,” consisting of Hitler-like propaganda designed to “recruit” children. “As Homosexuals continue to make inroads into public schools, more children will be molested and indoctrinated into the world of homosexuality. Many of them will die in that world,” he wrote in one “special report.”

"When I give my support for a candidate, I am giving the green light, if he wins, all the way down the line in terms of so many moral and social issues," Sheldon recently said. Sheldon joined other big-name religious-right leaders in a meeting with Romney last fall, and he recently met with the candidate for five hours, leaving with a promise that Romney would swear his oath of office on the Bible, not the Book of Mormon. “My thinking is that Mitt Romney is a person with the experience and with the Jude[o-]Christian moral values,” Sheldon told CBN’s David Brody, adding that he’d “been around Mormons long enough to know that … they are sincere about” Jesus.

Other religious-right activists on Romney’s committee include Christian Coalition board member Drew McKissic, Jay Sekulow’s son Jordan, anti-immigration writer James Edwards, and leaders or activists associated with the Alliance Defense Fund, Iowa Christian Alliance (formerly the Christian Coalition of Iowa), Heartbeat International, Legacy Law Foundation, and Citizens for Traditional Values.

Romney Positioning Himself on the Right

It is no secret that many on the right have been wary of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations and remains unconvinced by his recent claims that he is a champion of their cause.  It is also no surprise that, because of this, Romney has been doing all that he can to win them over.  

Since appearing alongside the likes of Tony Perkins, Bishop Wellington Boone, James Dobson, Don Wildmon, and others at the Family Research Council’s “Liberty Sunday,” Romney has steadily been working to establish his right-wing bona-fides.

For example, he recently signed the “Taxpayer’s Protection Pledge” put out by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, as did Sen. Sam Brownback.  In addition, Romney has begun stacking his exploratory committee with right-wing activists such as Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network and Jay Sekulow of Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.  

Joining Marx and Sekulow will be James Bopp, a right-wing powerhouse whose list of clients, according to his biography, reads like a who’s who of the Right:

[T]he National Right to Life Committee, Focus on the Family, Susan B. Anthony List, All Children Matter, Catholic Answers, Christian Broadcasting Network, Gerard Health Foundation, Priests for Life, Traditional Values Coalition, Salem Radio, Vision America, the Christian Coalition, and the Republican parties of Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont. He has argued numerous campaign finance cases in defense of pro-life, pro-family, conservative and Republican party groups, including four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. He also serves as General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and is a member of the Republican National Committee.

Romney is clearly competing with Sen. Brownback and the newly announced campaign from Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the support of the GOP’s most right-wing activists.  And since Brownback and Huckabee are considered long-shots, at best, Romney is quietly positioning himself to be the Right’s candidate-of-choice when the GOP primary field begins to narrow, giving him a distinct advantage over the other front-runners, Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  

Romney, Stung by Questions about Right-Wing Credentials, Gets High-Profile Judges Activists

2008 candidate hires Gary Marx from Judicial Confirmation Network and picks up endorsement from right-wing superlawyer Jay Sekulow.
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Gary Marx Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 08/22/2013, 10:50am
Faith and Freedom Coalition executive director Gary Marx has written a column for the Christian Post in which he claims that the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 have made our democracy only an illusion. After accusing the court of “dismantling American democracy” in their gay rights decisions, Marx lambastes the justices for turning America into “a nation where democracy is a mere visual effect used to spawn a perception of self-rule that no longer ultimately exists.” “The Supreme Court has now served notice to liberty advocates that it is... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 03/15/2013, 11:01am
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress. Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast.  McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/16/2011, 11:26am
Republican presidential aspirants continue to flock to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. Reed today announced that former Utah governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will speak to the group’s Conference and Strategy Briefing on June 3rd. Other GOP presidential contenders addressing the gathering include Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, along with Donald Trump, House GOP leaders John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan, and numerous Republican congressmen. The Faith and Freedom Coalition seems to be the restoration of Reed’s... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/23/2009, 12:26pm
Literally, just yesterday as I was doing my right-wing monitoring, I thought to myself "you know who's name I never see any more?  Ralph Reed."And for good reason, given his deep ties to Jack Abramoff.  Actually, the last time he made any news was when he was forced to skip a fund-raiser with John McCain last year thanks to the fact that he has been permanently tainted by his association with Abramoff.But, as Dan Gilgoff reports, Reed is now back with a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition:Ralph Reed, the Republican operative who... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 05/18/2009, 9:56am
Several related articles today, all pretty much saying the same thing:  even though right-wing groups are doubtful that they’ll actually be able to defeat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, they are raising lots of money to try and do so anyway and, in doing so, hope to make it an issue in the 2010 elections. The New York Times: While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/29/2009, 5:10pm
Both the NRCC and the RNC have responded to Arlen Specter's defection with a rousing "good riddance" ... and a plea for donations.Mike Huckabee responded to the news by saying it just goes to prove the importance of his PAC and electing "Republicans who will not sell their values for votes."Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Liberty Council, and others have officially come out in opposition to the confirmation of David Hamilton, while Gary Marx says Hamilton's nomination "does not bode... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 01/21/2009, 5:30pm
Shortly after the election, we noted that the Judicial Confirmation Network, which had been founded with the express purpose of helping to get President Bush’s judicial nominees confirmed, was starting to sing a different tune, proclaiming that the burden would now be upon President Obama and his nominees to prove that they are qualified to sit upon the federal bench and issuing an ominous warning that “senators will be accountable for [their] votes.” At the time, it appeared as if the JCN’s mission was about to shift from one of working to get judges... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/18/2008, 1:56pm
Back when the issue of judicial confirmations was heating up in the Senate, at the center of the Republican efforts to confirm controversial nominees was Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Justice.   As a member of the “Four Horsemen” along with C. Boyden Gray, Edwin Meese III, and Leonard Leo, Sekulow was a inside player in the battle over the “nuclear option” and the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.  Along the way, Sekulow created a new group called The Judicial Confirmation Network that was designed to give the appearance... MORE >