Michigan

Club for Growth President: Movement 'All About Protecting Our Christian Heritage'

In 2004 and 2006, the Club for Growth emerged as a major factor in a number of Republican primary races, specializing in challenging incumbents from the Right. The group spent millions in direct contributions and independent advertising to nearly unseat Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004 and Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee in 2006, and they succeeded in ousting Michigan Rep. Joe Schwarz. Chafee, who narrowly survived the brutal primary challenge only to lose in the general election, accused the Club of backing a hidden social agenda, but the group insisted it was strictly business, with a public focus on advocating for policies like tax cuts on investment income.

But Club for Growth President Pat Toomey struck a different chord speaking at a recent meeting of a Christian conservative group in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he said the Club continues to “scour” for right-wing challengers:

The featured speaker was former U.S. Congressman Pat Toomey, who provided the crowd with an update on the conservative movement.

Toomey lost in the primary Senate race against U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. He is also the president of the Washington-based conservative group The Club for Growth, which promotes economic freedom and raises funds for conservative candidates.

"It's all about protecting our Christian heritage," Toomey said. "And, a culture that is under assault."

Romney Hit for Porn

Adding to charges by MassResistance and others that Mitt Romney “bungled” gay marriage when he was governor of Massachusetts, the candidate is now getting grief about his business career. Romney, in his effort to secure support from social conservatives, has cited pornography as among the things he stands against, but some religious-right activists are questioning his anti-porn credentials.

Eneff is Eneff

After nine months, Janet Neff has been confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.  As we’ve chronicled here several times, Sen. Sam Brownback opposed her nomination simply because she attended the commitment ceremony of a family friend who is a lesbian back in 2002.

Over the past nine months, Brownback’s explanations as to why he was delaying her nomination, as well as the demands he made in order to let the nomination move forward, have been constantly shifting and “possibly unprecedented.”

But yesterday, with Neff scheduled to receive a vote on the Senate floor, Brownback took one last opportunity to make his opposition known: 

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff going onto the bench for a lifetime appointment. I have met directly with her. I have been present for two hearings where she has spoken on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, which we all agree should be decided by legislative bodies and by the people, not by the courts. She has an activist view on this issue. She participated in a ceremony herself. Then, when asked about her view toward same-sex unions, she said she considers it a continuing legal controversy. Her words: I really don't have an understanding of it, concerning the Michigan law. In Michigan, the State has defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, both by the legislature and the people. She says it is not entirely settled. Here is an activist on a core issue, a difficult issue, one I think we all believe should be decided by legislative bodies and not by the courts. She would be one who would have a tendency to rule from the bench.

I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff.

Exactly four Senators voted against Neff – all Republicans: Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Kyl (R-AZ), Martinez (R-FL).  

It is extraordinarily rare for any Republican to vote against any judicial nomination made by President Bush, especially to the lower-profile district court seats.  But apparently, for these four Republican Senators, anti-gay hostility runs deeper than the tradition of defending and supporting their own President’s judicial nominees.

Rudy to Get The Harriet Miers Treatment

Back in 2005, when Harriet Miers was humiliated and forced to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court, the Republican Party’s right-wing base was largely responsible.  Having torpedoed their own president’s nominee for being insufficiently zealous regarding their social and legal agenda, the Right forced President Bush to send them someone whose ideological commitment could not be doubted, which he did by nominating Samuel Alito.  

In the face of what, initially, seemed insurmountable odds, the Right mobilized and managed to torpedo Miers’ nomination in just under a month, achieving arguably their single most significant political triumph of the entire Bush presidency to date. 

Now, heading into 2008, the Right is facing what some of them see as an even more ominous threat: the prospect that Rudy Giuliani could win the GOP presidential nomination.  And just as they did with Miers, right-wing activists - especially anti-choice Catholic ones – are gearing up to launch an all-out attack in an effort to deny Giuliani the nomination:

The Never-Ending Saga of Janet Neff

Over the last several months, we have written a series of posts on Sen. Sam Brownback’s never-ending, one-man crusade against one of President Bush’s own nominees to the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Janet Neff, simply because she attended the commitment ceremony of a family friend who is a lesbian back in 2002.  

Over the course of this mind-boggling episode, Brownback’s demands have constantly shifted.

Initially, he went to the Justice Department seeking a formal legal opinion while demanding that Neff answer various questions about her involvement in the ceremony and her views on marriage equality and civil unions.  When that didn’t satisfy him, he demanded that she recuse herself from any case dealing with these issues, but then backed down when he realized that his demand “was so unusual as to be possibly unprecedented.” 

Brownback then demanded a second hearing for Neff so that he could grill her about these issues in person, because he failed to do so at her first hearing, which he had chaired.  But he didn’t get a second hearing because even the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee noted that “there is no precedent to give a (nominee) who has passed out of committee and being considered on the floor a second hearing.”

When it looked like he was running out of options, Brownback took to the pages of The Grand Rapids Press and changed his demands once again, stating that so long as he had an opportunity to voice his opposition on the Senate floor, he would let Neff’s nomination go forward.  But shortly thereafter, he backtracked and renewed his demand for a second hearing, saying he’d let the nomination move forward so long as he had a chance to question her, again, in committee.

Then, once again he backed away from his demand for another hearing, saying he just wanted a debate on the Senate floor on her nomination and a chance for an up-or-down vote.

Well, according to Congressional Quarterly, Brownback has managed to secure his long sought-after second hearing for Neff and is once again back to threatening to block her nomination if he doesn’t like her answers:

Sen. Sam Brownback has blocked one of President Bush’s judicial nominees before, and he’s ready to do it again if he doesn’t get the right answers at a Thursday confirmation hearing.

The Kansas Republican blocked the nomination of Janet T. Neff to a Michigan federal district court seat last year because Neff once attended a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.

In December, Brownback said he would stand aside if Neff promised to recuse herself from cases involving same-sex unions. But that didn’t happen and the nomination died.

Well, Neff is back. Bush renominated her in March, and Brownback still wants some answers.

He said Tuesday he wants Neff to explain the role she played at that gay couple’s commitment ceremony and that he’s interested in her views in general on the legality of gay marriage: “Let’s hear what she has to say.”

Then, he said, he’ll decide whether to block her nomination for a second time.

McCain' Floundering Outreach

Two months ago, Sen. John McCain’s campaign released this announcement:

U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential exploratory committee today announced that Marlene D. Elwell will serve as the Deputy Director of Coalitions, as well as the National Director of the Americans of Faith coalition for the Arizona Senator's exploratory committee.

Elwell was also friend and advisor to the Christian Coalition from its inception through the 1990's, lending her years of expertise to the building of the grassroots movement. She has continued working to build coalitions within the faith community. In 2004, she led the effort in Michigan to pass the state's amendment to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

"Senator McCain has a proven track record of supporting conservative causes, and is the principled voice our party and nation needs," said Elwell. "It will be my privilege to serve the Senator and communicate his message of common sense conservatism nationwide."

McCain stated that he was grateful to have the support of Elwell and looked forward to working with her. "Marlene is a highly respected conservative leader and is an important addition to my team. Her advice, counsel, and networking abilities will be instrumental in communicating my strong record of social and fiscal conservatism."

On Friday, The Washington Post reported:

In the midst of the Sen. John McCain's presidential announcement tour comes news that Marlene Elwell -- one of the Arizona Senator's leading social conservative advocates -- has parted ways with the campaign.

Elwell, who was one of McCain's chief liaisons to the faith community, confirmed her departure in a brief telephone interview this evening. She did not offer any further explanation on the decision.

Elwell, who is based in Michigan, rose to prominence in social conservatives as a leading member of Pat Robertson's campaign. She was also a prime mover in the Michigan effort to define marriage between a man and a woman that passed in 2004.

This news came just two days after the Post reported that McCain’s various past efforts to appeal to the Right were, at best, half-hearted:

[McCain's advisers] argue that it was never McCain's hope to become the darling of social and religious conservatives -- only to get enough votes among those Republicans to win the nomination. "McCain's goal wasn't to become their candidate," a campaign official said.

Elwell’s role on the McCain campaign was to “convince fellow Christian right activists that the senator is not the social moderate they think he is.”

Now she is gone.  So has McCain finally decided to stop trying to ingratiate himself with the Right, or has Elwell finally realized that McCain’s previous efforts to do so were pure political pandering?  

Right-Wing Donor Ponders What to Do If Gays Move into His New Development

The New Yorker recently profiled Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and his plans for an ultra-orthodox community and university in southwest Florida. Monaghan has been a consistent donor to right-wing causes, such as groups like Operation Rescue and the Committee to End State-Funded Abortions in Michigan as well as anti-gay activism. He founded the Ann Arbor PAC, the Ave Maria List PAC, and the Thomas More Law Center; he sits on the board of advisors of the Catholic League; and he’s lent financial clout to presidential candidate Sam Brownback.

The New Yorker article is not available online, but it describes Monaghan’s path from pizza magnate to a philanthropist dedicated to “rescu[ing] the Catholic Church from what he saw as its slide toward apostasy,” whether by fighting Sandinistas, recruiting (via Antonin Scalia) Robert Bork to teach at a start-up law school, or building a city from scratch where, as Monaghan envisioned, “We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drugstore and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that.”

Buying a Movement?

So far, Gov. Mitt Romney has managed to win two relatively high-profile Republican straw polls, which undoubtedly help solidify his status as one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination.

Back in March, he won the Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) straw poll … mainly because he brought in activists specifically for this purpose:

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said the conference volunteers were part of a long-term effort to build grass roots support. “These volunteers are the folks who are going to be on the front lines of our campaign across the country,” he said. “The investment that we are making here is going to offer a greater result as this campaign continues to grow.”

Mr. Madden said the Romney campaign planned to have at least 225 student volunteers at the event, with 90 percent of them living close enough to eliminate the need for housing or transportation.  … All the campaigns encourage their supporters to turn out for the conference and other straw polls. But organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference said reports from students indicated that Mr. Romney’s was the only campaign providing transportation or hotel rooms. The campaign has provided small buses or vans for students from Michigan and Boston, two strongholds of support for Mr. Romney

A closer look at the numbers revealed that Romney didn’t do particularly well, but apparently the Romney campaign was pleased enough with the result to try something similar in South Carolina:

By midday Saturday, the upstate area was rife with rumors of a fixed straw poll. When I asked Sullivan, Romney's state advisor, if the campaign was paying for supporters' votes, he said, "No, absolutely not." But he admitted to recruiting people to the polls as so-called proxy delegates, which he said was a common practice among the campaigns. The campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also admitted some "friend-to-friend" recruitment of delegates, but denied paying any delegate fees. A few hours later, I tracked down Lynch, a gospel musician, at his home in Greenville.

"We were delegates of Mitt Romney, so we didn't have to pay," Lynch said. Like thousands of South Carolinians, Lynch and his wife, Melissa, have been bombarded with direct mail from the presidential candidates. He sent back a card from Romney, saying he would like to help. Sometime later, he said, Slick, the Romney aide, showed up at his door, and told him not to worry about the money. "He came over and we signed papers to be delegates, so we wouldn't have to pay the $15 fee," Lynch said. "Is there a problem?"

And again it paid off:

Among the 421 voters in Greenville County, Romney finished first with 132 votes, followed closely by Huckabee with 111. California Rep. Duncan Hunter got 87, Giuliani had 35 and Brownback received 19. McCain received 17 votes. Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo had five votes, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson got three, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore each got one. Only candidates who have established presidential exploratory committees were considered in the poll.

In Richland County, 126 delegates participated in the straw poll. Romney won with 39.7 percent of the vote. Brownback had 13.5 percent, Giuliani got 11.9 percent, and both McCain and Huckabee got 10.3 percent. Hunter got 7.9 percent and Tancredo received 3.2 percent. Cox and a write-in President Bush both received 1.6 percent.

And just as at CPAC, a closer look at the numbers suggests that while he may be winning straw polls, he is not necessarily winning over Republican voters:

About 700 people participated and awarded the candidates one, three or five points. Huckabee finished first with 3,522 points, Giuliani came in second with 3,161, followed by Hunter with 3,090 and Romney with 2,972. Brownback earned 2,931 points, Cox had 2,456 and McCain got 2,027.

Of course, perhaps these efforts by Romney and his campaign are entirely legitimate and just appear to be a bit suspicious – not unlike, say, the $25,000 he donated to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which favorably reviewed his health-care policy, or the $25,919 his campaign paid to a company run by religious-right superlawyer Jay Sekulow, who endorsed Romney around the time that his campaign was hurting from revelations of ideological heresies in his past.

AFA Michigan Opposes Anti-Bullying Measure

Citing “segregated, protected class categories, including homosexual behavior and cross-dressing.”

Brownback and Neff: Round II

For five months, we have been keeping an eye on Sen. Sam Brownback’s opposition to Janet Neff, nominated by President Bush to serve on the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, solely because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002.  

In that time, Brownback has engaged in a series of stalling tactics and issued constantly-shifting demands in an attempt to prevent her confirmation: first placing a hold on her nomination, then demanding that she recuse herself from specific cases, then calling for a second hearing, then saying he just wanted an opportunity to debate and vote on her nomination on the Senate floor, then warning again that he wanted her to face a second hearing.

Because of Brownback’s stalling, Neff and a dozen other nominees failed to receive a Senate vote during the last session of Congress and their nominations were returned to the White House. 

Well, President Bush has now renominated Neff and Brownback is back to pledging that he won’t place a hold on her nomination this time around:

Brownback spokesman Brian Hart said the senator would not place another hold on Neff. Brownback intends to ask Senate leadership for a floor debate on her nomination and an up-or-down vote, he said.

Whether or nor Brownback upholds this pledge remains to be seen, but considering that the Right is unimpressed by the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls and that his primary concern right now is how to gather support his long-shot presidential bid, there is an obvious temptation for him to try and carve out a niche as the Right’s standard-bearer, which is exactly what he appears to be doing: 

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback introduced himself to state voters Monday as a "full-scale conservative" and made no apologies for his hardline stances against taxes, abortion and gay marriage.

Keep in mind that the only thing the Right seems to like more than fighting over judges is criticizing anything having to do with gays – and a battle over Neff could satisfy both of these urges. 

Perhaps in renominating Neff, President Bush has just handed Brownback an opportunity to rally the right-wing supporters that his campaign so desperately needs.   

Event: Ward Connerly to Speak at Heritage on Anti-Affirmative Action Plans

Will be webcast tomorrow at noon. Connerly instigated affirmative action bans in California, Michigan.

AFA Michigan Calls Nobel-Winning Morrison's Book 'Child Porn'

Demands “Bluest Eye” taken out of high school class.

Right Celebrates Decision Annulling Partner Benefits

As byproduct of broadly-written anti-gay marriage amendment in Michigan.

'Patriot Pastor' Call to Imprison Adulterers Could Thin Presidential Primary

Televangelist and Ohio “Patriot Pastor” leader Rod Parsley’s Center for Moral Clarity is urging the revival of long-dormant laws against adultery in states such as Michigan, where adultery is technically a felony, although no one has been prosecuted for 36 years.

In an e-mail update to its supporters, the Center noted with approval the remark of an appeals court judge that a Michigan statute criminalizing sex involving commission of a felony, when combined with the law making adultery a felony, could lead to life in prison. “Lawmakers and judges in Michigan are holding married couples accountable for their vows of fidelity,” touted CMC, adding that “The rest of the nation should take a look at the Michigan statute. Criminal laws are designed to force people to conform to certain acceptable standards of personal behavior. Most of society's code of conduct has its roots in the 10 Commandments.”

"Adultery is a violation of biblical instruction as well as an offense against the other partner in what should be a sacred relationship,” said Parsley. But given his history of involvement in Republican politics, where will that leave him in 2008, with frontrunning presidential candidates McCain and Giuliani, along with potential dark horse Gingrich, each allegedly carrying an adulterous past that, in Parsley’s world, would put them behind bars?

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.  

Brownback Moves the Goalposts Once Again on Neff Nomination

For months, we have been chronicling Sen. Sam Brownback’s one-man crusade against the nomination of Janet Neff because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002.  Because of this and this alone, Brownback has been stalling her nomination to serve on the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan while constantly changing his explanations and demands.  

First he went to the Justice Department seeking a formal legal opinion while demanding that Neff answer various questions about her involvement in the ceremony and her views on marriage equality and civil unions.  When that didn’t satisfy him, he demanded that she recuse herself from any case dealing with these issues, but then backed down when he realized that his preferred solution “was so unusual as to be possibly unprecedented.” 

Brownback then demanded a second hearing for Neff so that he could grill her about these issues in person, because he failed to do so at her first hearing, which he had chaired.  But he didn’t get a second hearing because even the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee noted that “there is no precedent to give a (nominee) who has passed out of committee and being considered on the floor a second hearing.”

When it looked like Brownback was running out of options, he took to the pages of The Grand Rapids Press and changed his demands once again, stating that so long as he had an opportunity to voice his opposition on the Senate floor, he would let Neff’s nomination go forward:  

Should the president resubmit her nomination to the Senate during the 110th Congress, I will not block it. Instead, I am hopeful that leadership will agree to a debate and an up-or-down roll call vote on the nomination. If so, I will not reinstate the hold on Judge Neff.      
 

But speaking in Michigan this week, Brownback has signaled that he is not done obstructing Neff’s nomination and suddenly renewed his demand for a second hearing: 

Brownback said he won't stand in the way of the nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff to the federal bench, as long as he has a chance to question her before the Judiciary Committee.

Brownback said he wants to have a "legal discussion of whatever she's willing to state about her views on the issue as it would come before her as a judge.

"I want to talk to her about any prejudices she may or may not have."

Neff’s nomination has yet to be resubmitted by the President, though it is expected to be forthcoming.  With Democrats in control of the Judiciary Committee, it is unlikely that Brownback is going to receive the second hearing he is calling for, since even the Republican-controlled committee wouldn’t grant him one. 

Given his sudden backtracking, Brownback is presumably hoping to use the Democrats’ refusal to convene a second hearing as an excuse to continue to block Neff’s nomination. Of course, this will only work if everyone forgets that only a month ago he pledged not to block her nomination so long as he had to opportunity to “debate and [cast] an up-or-down roll call vote on the nomination” on the Senate floor.  

But to date, the only one who appears to have forgotten that is Brownback himself.  

In Iowa, Brownback Strikes Moderate Pose

After weeks of campaigning at Right Wing events and jostling for the mantle of “most conservative” candidate, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback visited Iowa and struck a completely different chord:

Kansas senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he would focus his campaign on issues that have a bipartisan consensus, a break from his trademark social conservatism.

"The political discourse automatically goes to the most difficult issues, and then we can't talk about them," said Brownback, in Iowa for the first time since announcing his bid on Jan. 20.

"I'd rather work on a core set of issues that we can agree on.

Brownback’s next stop was Michigan: This afternoon, he spoke at a conference of non-profit managers, where he apparently focused his remarks on alternative fuels. But the real test of the senator’s claim will come with reports of his speech this morning at Ave Maria Law School, founded by right-wing funder and Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan. Monaghan has endorsed Brownback, saying he “doesn't want to be associated with anyone who’s going to compromise.” The topic of Brownback’s speech was the judiciary, and in the past few months, Brownback has tried to block a nominee who once attended a lesbian commitment ceremony. How will the new, “bipartisan” Brownback address his divisive actions in the Senate?

AFA Lawyer Defends Right-Wing-Backed Bible Course in Michigan

Against constitutional challenge. More on NCBSPS.

Brownback Threatens to Renew Hold On Neff

Sen. Sam Brownback continues his one-man crusade against the nomination of Janet Neff over her attendance at a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002, taking to the pages of The Grand Rapids Press to explain his opposition:

I placed what is known as a "hold" on the nomination of Judge Neff in order to get information on two items: First, what were the facts surrounding the same-sex ceremony? Second, how did Judge Neff view the legal issue of same-sex marriage under the United States Constitution: For example, did she believe that the law passed by the people of Michigan in 2004 to prohibit same-sex marriage violated the Constitution?

Neff was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October and Brownback claims that he had no choice but to put a hold on her nomination: 

Without the hold, we would not have had time to ask Judge Neff relevant questions and afford her the time to respond, and the nomination likely would have been passed by unanimous consent without debate -- even though the consensus on the nominee clearly would not have been in fact unanimous.

Brownback’s claim is clearly bogus, as the Senate’s own website explains:  

A Senator may request unanimous consent on the floor to set aside a specified rule of procedure so as to expedite proceedings. If no Senator objects, the Senate permits the action, but if any one Senator objects, the request is rejected.

Unanimous Consent requires … well, unanimous consent.  As such, Brownback could have objected to any effort to confirm Neff by this method.  

As it stands now, Brownback appears resigned to defeat on this issue, but is still trying to save face by saying that so long as the Democratic “leadership will agree to a debate and an up-or-down roll call vote on the nomination … I will not reinstate the hold on Judge Neff.” 

Of course, the implication is that if he doesn't get his way, he won't hesitate to reinstate his hold.

Brownback Wants McCarthyesque Hearings for Bush’s Judicial Nominee

Sen. Sam Brownback is not giving up his fight against the nomination of Janet Neff and is now seeking to bring her before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second hearing so that he can get her to provide the “facts” about her attendance at a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002:

"I am not opposed to her getting a vote," Brownback said before a lunch with potential donors and supporters in Davenport. "I would like her to come back through committee so she can testify what took place, factually ... her legal views on same-sex marriage and her ability and willingness to be impartial." 

Brownback’s McCarthyesque desire to uncover every bit of information regarding Neff’s attendance at this ceremony is staggering.  What does he expect her to provide?  A guest list?  A copy of the gift registry?  

Neff explained her attendance at the ceremony, saying that one of the women was a close family friend and that “it was no different than being asked by my own daughters to be part of an important event in their lives.” But that did not satisfied Brownback, who demanded that she recuse herself from any cases involving the issue of same-sex unions as a condition of receiving a confirmation vote.  Earlier this week, Brownback appeared to back down from that position after realizing that his demand “was so unusual as to be possibly unprecedented” - though he is still defending his actions:

"If we don't testify on her views on same-sex marriage legally, then the only way I can see fit to do this is to have her recuse herself from a class of cases," Brownback said. "Then others stepped in and said 'you can't do that.' Well, that's the only option I had at that late hour."

President Bush nominated Janet Neff back in June and she received a Committee hearing in September – a hearing that was, coincidentally enough, chaired by Brownback himself:

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin said Tuesday they support three nominees submitted by President Bush to the U.S. District Court for Michigan's Western District.

The three nominees - Grand Rapids lawyer Robert Jonker, Berrien County Circuit Judge Paul Maloney and Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff - told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would respect the principles of judicial restraint if confirmed.

Stabenow, introducing the appointees, said they bring "distinguished legal careers to the federal bench" and she hoped their nominations would reach the full Senate quickly.

"Senator Levin and I are bringing our full support, enthusiastic support, for the nominees," Stabenow told Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who led the hearing.

If Brownback was so concerned about Neff’s “willingness to be impartial,” perhaps he should have asked her about it when he chaired her confirmation hearing three months ago.  

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