judicial nominees

How We Help Pat Robertson Express Himself

As Media Matters and Americans United reported, Pat Robertson accused them and People For the American Way of trying to “squelch” his speech. Our method of “stifling” his freedom of expression? We broadcast his own words. From Tuesday’s “700 Club”:

Well our next guest and our next story I know about personally. There’s an organization called People For the American Way. They have camped on this program for decades. They record every single word that I say. If there’s any possibility that they can catch something or change it and then feed it to the AP, they do, and so the next thing you know it’s a big story.

Then, added to them is one of [the] ACLU operatives who started an organization called Americans United for Separation of Church and State. They have people assigned to monitor every word, and then to take those words, change them often, take connectives out of them, change the sense of it, and then feed it to a willing agent in the Associated Press. Then, on top of that, there’s another group, which has backing from somebody like George Soros, called, what is it, Media Matters.

So there are three of them trying to stifle the speech on this program and to embarrass those who make it.

Now, monitoring and responding to the Religious Right has been part of People For the American Way’s mission since 1981, so it’s true that we have been watching Robertson and other televangelists as they have sought to expand their political influence. And while it’s been years since Robertson’s 1988 presidential run, when he finished second in the Iowa caucus and birthed the Christian Coalition, he remains the head of an enormous media and religious empire, including the Christian Broadcasting Network, the “700 Club” (which contractually remains on the mainstream ABC Family channel), Regent University (whose low-ranked law school placed a number of graduates in the Bush Justice Department), and the affiliated American Center for Law and Justice (whose head, Jay Sekulow, played a key role in picking Bush’s judicial nominees).

Given Robertson’s continuing political clout, it shouldn’t be surprising that folks pay attention to him and even criticize him. As for “embarrassing” him, well, he does enough of that himself. Like when he and guest Jerry Falwell blamed us for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

In the past, Robertson has complained about being “misquoted”—like when he said Ariel Sharon’s debilitating stroke was divine punishment for “dividing God’s land.” But given that we provided the full transcript and video of his comments, the claim did not hold up to scrutiny.

Even more absurd, however, is Robertson’s complaint that we are trying to censor him. In fact, it is completely the opposite. We bring Robertson’s message—in his own words—to a whole new audience.

The Return of the 'One-Day Crusade'

Nearly a year after Rick Scarborough began his ambitious “70 Weeks to Save America” to sign up thousands of “Patriot Pastors” and voters at church rallies across America, only to have it peter out due to money, mechanical problems, slim turnout, and Alan Keyes, and nearly three months since announcing the project’s triumphant comeback, Scarborough is finally holding a “Patriot Pastor” rally in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring disgruntled ex-chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, “National Statesman/Evangelist Dr. Rick Scarborough,” and a singer billed as the “Pavarotti of gospel.”

This “One-Day Crusade” will be held at Two Rivers Baptist Church, home of Rev. Jerry Sutton, who is no stranger to church-based politicking. In 2005, he hosted a rally in support of President Bush’s controversial judicial nominees (including future Chief Justice John Roberts). Billed as a protest against “activist judges” supposedly trying to “silence” people of faith, “Justice Sunday II” brought together some of the biggest names on the Religious Right, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and then-National Evangelical Association President Ted Haggard, along with Robert Bork, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, Bishop Harry Jackson, and then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Sutton himself boiled down the message he hoped the audience would take home:

Number one, it's a new day.

Number two, liberalism is dead.

Number three, the majority of Americans are conservative.

Number four, you can count on us showing up and speaking out.

And number five, let the church rise.

Sutton, who is a research fellow with Richard Land’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and ran for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, has been involved in an imbroglio at his own church recently, when 71 members sued the church over financial mismanagement (along with Sutton’s “lavish lifestyle” and “authoritarian” leadership).

McCain's Next Controversial Priest

Deal Hudson reports that John McCain “met privately” with Rev. Frank Pavone, the Priests for Life head most famous for calling Michael Schiavo a murderer, before a Catholic-outreach meeting in Philadelphia. McCain has been holding events with supporter Sen. Sam Brownback, whose brief presidential run attracted a lot of attention from social conservatives, and who promised to court the Religious Right activists such as Pavone on McCain’s behalf.

Pavone has come a long way since 2005, when he denounced McCain for joining the so-called “Gang of 14” compromise over extreme judicial nominees. “It is unfortunate that Senator McCain has joined those senators who are trying to prevent godly men and women nominated by their president and supported by a majority of senators from serving on our nation's courts,” Pavone said. “There is not going to be a church in America that is not going to know exactly who those senators are.”

Indeed, Pavone was a typical advocate of the notion that opponents of extreme nominees were somehow anti-Christian bigots. When John Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court, Pavone warned Democrats that “If they again attempt to attack a nominee's faith or pro-life convictions,” they would be “held accountable.”

At the same time, Pavone is a vocal advocate of involving the church in politics, whether urging priests to tell their congregations to vote based only on abortion or supporting bishops who make pro-choice politicians’ communion into a political football.

Pavone is planning a conference call on June 25th to “inspire and equip pro-life citizens to make a difference in this year’s national elections, and to awaken the conscience of Americans about abortion.”

Catholic League's Precarious Position

On Friday, we discussed Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President Bill Donohue’s campaign against Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory council—a beef based on the fact that a number of these advisors, like most U.S. Catholics, are politically pro-choice. It might seem odd that a group so sensitive to references to Catholicism that it would boycott a beer company with flimsy links to a gay-themed “Last Supper” would be so easy to mollify when it came to McCain’s alliance with John Hagee, and odder still that Donohue seems to be settling in for the long haul of dogging Obama for links to pro-choice Catholics.

But readers of this blog have probably noticed, that’s just Donohue modus operandi. Whether he’s hyping a mythical “War on Christmas,” mouthing off randomly about gays, or intimidating critics of Bush’s judicial nominees with phony charges of anti-Catholicism, Donohue’s tool belt is limited to hyping his “beef” with popular culture and attacking political opponents as religious “bigots.”

Catholics for Choice (formerly Catholics for a Free Choice) has been Donohue’s top target for years—for example, he would label the group’s past president “the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the nation.” Now, CFC has released an in-depth report on Donohue and the Catholic League (PDF here) (via RH Reality Check):

According to an annual report put out by the League, the number of examples of anti-Catholicism grew from 140 in 1995 to 320 in 2006, yet the only thing that seems to have actually increased is the League's definition of what constitutes anti-Catholic activity.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Donohue’s predictable partisanship and bullying style, the Catholic League still manages to get a fair number of its shotgun press releases into the media, where Donohue is treated as if he were a representative of all Catholics, if not a spokesman for the church itself. This is a precarious position for a group whose political philosophy is built upon the suggestion that those who are pro-choice—including the majority of U.S. Catholics—are the “anti-Catholic” enemy.

Petty, Partisan, and Disingenuous

In delivering his “if you liked Bush’s judicial nominees, you’re going to love mine” speech today, John McCain blasted Democratic “obstruction” of President Bush’s nominees and held himself up as a paragon of virtue and integrity:

Of course, in the daily routine of Senate obstructionism, presidential nominees to the lower courts are now lucky if they get a hearing at all. These courts were created long ago by the Congress itself, on what then seemed the safe assumption that future Senates would attend to their duty to fill them with qualified men and women nominated by the president. Yet at this moment there are 31 nominations pending, including several for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that serves North Carolina. Because there are so many cases with no judges to hear them, a "judicial emergency" has been declared here by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. And a third of the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is vacant. But the alarm has yet to sound for the Senate majority leadership. Their idea of a judicial emergency is the possible confirmation of any judge who doesn't meet their own narrow tests of party and ideology. They want federal judges who will push the limits of constitutional law, and, to this end, they have pushed the limits of Senate rules and simple courtesy.

And yet when President Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to serve on the high court, I voted for their confirmation, as did all but a few of my fellow Republicans. Why? For the simple reason that the nominees were qualified, and it would have been petty, and partisan, and disingenuous to insist otherwise. Those nominees represented the considered judgment of the president of the United States. And under our Constitution, it is the president's call to make.

So, to hear McCain tell it, nobody but him in the Senate understands “simple courtesy” or the basic rule that senators should defer to the president on nominations or that voting against a nominee is “petty, partisan, and disingenuous.”

It is not surprising that McCain would use this opportunity to attack the Democrats on this issue – after all, he is trying to win over the Right and, as we all know, they just love to fight over judicial nominations.  

Of course, it is not as if Republicans have been good stewards of the confirmation process, as McCain realized back before he was busy pandering for right-wing votes:

“We Republicans are not blameless here,” McCain told me. “For all intents and purposes, we filibustered Clinton’s judges, by not letting them out of committee.”

Nor has McCain always upheld his own standard of deferring to the president, as evidenced by his own voting record during the Clinton administration:

Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Nomination of H. Lee Sarokin to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of H. Lee Sarokin: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of Rosemary Barkett to be U.S. Circuit Judge for 11th Circuit: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of William A. Fletcher to be U.S. Circuit Judge for 9th Circuit: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to be U.S. Circuit Judge for 2nd Circuit: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of Ronnie L. White to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of Ann L. Aiken to be US District Judge for the OR District: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of Susan Oki Mollway to be U.S. Dist. Judge Central Dist. Hawaii: McCain - Nay

On the Confirmation of James J. Brady to be United States District Judge Middle District of Louisiana: McCain - Nay

Of course, all of these Clinton nominees must have been unqualified because otherwise it would have been petty, partisan, and disingenuous of McCain to have voted against them.

Or perhaps McCain only applies this standard to Supreme Court nominations, which would explain his gushing support of Robert Bork.

Give ‘Em What They Want, John

As John McCain prepares to deliver his remarks on the future of the judiciary today in North Carolina, it looks like he will be under some close scrutiny from the Right, who are growing fed up with his seeming reluctance to throw them red meat:

In town-hall meetings, Sen. McCain makes a point to explain his positions on terrorism, taxes, the economy, energy and health care. But in his prepared remarks, he never mentions abortion, same-sex marriage, judges or gun rights. When asked, he often responds quickly and moves on.

"Imagine if you were an economic conservative and someone never talked about tax policy unless they were asked about it," said Charmaine Yoest, a vice president at the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group focused on social issues.

Asked whether she thinks Sen. McCain really cares about the abortion issue, she said, "I don't know, and that's his problem."

As such, many of them are launching a campaign to make the issue of judges a centerpiece of the upcoming election:

Conservative leaders also want the party to embrace language that would instruct Senate leaders to make the confirmation of nominees a higher priority. Conservatives say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must press Democrats harder to confirm several controversial nominees, such as D.C. Circuit Court nominee Peter Keisler and 4th Circuit Court nominee Robert Conrad Jr.

Manuel Miranda, a former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), circulated a draft Monday of principles for the GOP platform committee to consider. Several conservative leaders quickly endorsed it. 

Paul Weyrich, chairman of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, said he supports including the language on judicial nominees in the party platform.

“I think the more we particularize that whole issue, the more people focus on the topic,” Weyrich said. Making detailed guidelines on judicial nominees part of the platform would also help social conservatives hold McCain to account if he is elected president.

“You can compare what the party says with any subsequent action by its nominees,” said Weyrich. 

And while McCain is delivering his remarks, Republican National Committee officials will be courting right-wing leaders on this effort having “invited social conservative leaders based in and around Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting Tuesday morning where former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) will give them a preview of McCain’s remarks.”   

Already McCain surrogate Sen. Sam Brownback is making the rounds assuring the Right that it’ll like what it hears and, judging by excerpts of McCain's remarks and preliminary press coverage, it certainly looks like that will be the case:  

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday he would appoint judges in the mold of conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist if he were elected in November.

In an excerpt from a speech McCain was to give in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, the Arizona senator said he would "look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint."

"I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist -- jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference," McCain said.

In fact, so sure is the McCain camp that this speech will win over the Right that it is reaching out to them via GOPUSA seeking donations:   

We have a lot at stake in this presidential election. As a nation, we face many challenges that will require real leadership from our next president. I have said before that this election will be about the big things, not the small things, and I write to you today about one big issue in particular - the future of the U.S. Supreme Court. If one of my Democratic opponents is elected in November, you can rest assured that given the opportunity to appoint judges, they will appoint those who make law with disregard for the will of the people.

There may be at least two vacancies on the United States Supreme Court during the next presidential term. As president, I will ensure that only those judges with a strict interpretation of the Constitution of the United States are appointed. I will nominate judges who understand that their role is to faithfully apply the law as written, not impose their opinions through judicial fiat.

If you want judges who have a clear, complete adherence to the Constitution of the United States and who do not legislate from the bench to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, then I ask that you join my campaign for president today by making a financial contribution.

Right to Pastors: Join Us or They'll Come After You

On Saturday, Coral Ridge Ministries—the televangelism empire of the late D. James Kennedy—broadcast a special program to encourage pastors to involve their churches in this year’s elections. While the panelists—Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defense Fund, and Gary DeMar of American Vision—offered the usual admonishments that there’s no such thing as separation of church and state, the theme of the evening was that Christianity is being “suppressed” in this country by liberals and the “militant homosexual agenda.” Watch "Pastors, Pulpits, and Politics":

This is the persecuted majority syndrome: the idea that it’s a whole lot simpler to convince people to join your political program if you convince them that their faith is “under attack.” This has been one of the Religious Right’s dominant themes over the last few years through campaigns such as FRC’s “Justice Sunday,” a series of televised, church-based rallies to support President Bush’s most radical judicial nominees, who the Right claimed were being opposed because of their religion. Perkins picked up on that theme on Saturday:

The idea that there should be no religious test ... that has been turned on its head to say that if you have a particular faith or denomination in which you actually believe it and apply it to your lives, therefore, if that's the case, you can't serve in government. You have to somehow choose between actually believing in what you believe and serving in government. That's how this is being applied today and it's totally wrong.

And we're losing the Christian foundation of our nation. And if you want to see a totalitarian government, you want to see rights that are lost and freedoms abused, then you lose the Christian heritage of this nation and you go down the path that the liberals are taking us. And that's where it'll be found.

It Never Ends

It is no secret that, when it comes to the issue of judicial nominees, the Right just likes to fight.  And one of the way the GOP and the Right try to gin up their base in an election year is to make judges an issue, and make unfounded accusations of bigotry against any opponents. They’re at it once again

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he has not ruled out the option of shutting down the chamber to put fresh pressure on Democrats to confirm President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees.

His statement came after Republicans brought a Judiciary Committee meeting to a near-standstill to vent their frustrations with what they said was Democratic foot-dragging to confirm 10 pending nominees to federal appeals courts. They complained that there have been no committee hearings on nominees since last September, and say that at least nine more nominees need to be confirmed by the end of Bush’s term in order to match the 15 judges the Republican-controlled Senate approved in the final two years of the Clinton administration.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters last month that one of the options to force Democratic action is “shutting down the Senate.” He reiterated that threat this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

In an interview with The Hill on Thursday, Specter said it was “a possibility” that the GOP would object to motions that allow routine business to proceed on the floor, a move that would stifle Senate action and effectively bring the chamber to a halt.

And once again, the Right is deploying its complementary tactic of ignoring the concerns raised about a controversial nominees’ record or judicial philosophy in favor of simply accusing Democrats of opposing the nominee out of bigotry.  As we’ve noted before:

The Right sees some nefarious ulterior motive at work – and that is how they manage to convince themselves that opposition to [Leslie] 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

And guess what? Here they go again ... this time with a bit of a twist, as Fidelis circularly accuses Sen. Pat Leahy , who is himself Catholic, of accusing Robert Conrad, who is likewise Catholic, of making anti-Catholic statements:

In the latest attack on 4th Circuit nominee Judge Robert Conrad, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), accused Conrad of making anti-Catholic comments in a letter submitted to a Catholic periodical over nine years ago. Leahy’s accusation comes as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have come under increased pressure to act on President Bush’s judicial nominations … Anti-Catholic bigotry in America is real, and we welcome efforts to confront it where it truly exists. But in the case of Judge Conrad, there is nothing that even remotely resembles anti-Catholicism.

While that complaint is a bit confusing and probably unlikely to generate any sort of outrage, Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice decided to take a different track and simply accuse Senate Democrats of being anti-Semitic for opposing the nomination of Peter Keisler

Is the fact that Keisler is Jewish similarly contributing to his obstruction by Democrats? There is no way to know. But it’s worth noting that, of the nine appeals court nominees currently being obstructed, three are Jewish.

Of course, it is “worth noting” that three of the nominees are Jewish only if you are attempting to insinuate that opposition to their nominations is rooted in anti-Semitism - despite admitting that you have “no way to know” and absolutely no evidence that that is actually the case.

Janet Folger: Sheep

For the last several months, Janet Folger dedicated her life to helping Mike Huckabee try to secure the Republican presidential nomination, hosting the Values Voter Debate where she anointed Huckabee the "David among Jesse’s sons," serving as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, praying for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, and even launching a front-group to attack Mitt Romney and John McCain. All along she warned that Huckabee was the only acceptable candidate in the race and the only one who could keep the Right out of prison while declaring that McCain was unacceptable because he:
Pushed "campaign finance reform" that would put a gag rule on citizen groups like Wisconsin Right to Life, who McCain sued when they suggested people actually contact their senators to let them know how they felt about the filibuster on judicial nominees. He was also one of the gang of 14 who kept the filibuster alive. He also voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment.
Folger made clear that only "sheep" would support McCain, while the principled "shepherds" were intent on backing Huckabee:
We heard the mantra, "A vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain!" Interestingly, the same people who said that are now saying, "Don't vote for Huckabee. Vote for McCain!" Really? Support the guy who wants to force us to fund medical experimentation on human beings like Joshua and Rachel Hubbard – who were themselves once frozen embryos. Real human beings. Just older than they were when they were shoved in a freezer and vulnerable to policies like those of Sen. John McCain. Just because someone shoves children in the freezer doesn't mean they're no longer human beings in need of adoption. "Thou shalt not kill" doesn't say "unless they're really small and discarded by people who don't want them." If you found a kid locked in a closet, would you justify performing medical experiments on him before taking his life because he "was going to die if nobody let him out of that closet anyway?" They are rallying to the very guy who wanted a two-month gag rule prior to an election on all of us who want to inform people about what Congress may be doing – like forming a gang (of 14, for example) to block good judicial nominees. Ann Gimenez, whose husband Bishop John Gimenez, a true Christian leader who just went on to his reward, said, "This is not the time to lose our moral compass. Take a stand for righteousness, and don't deviate from it." Good advice. There are sheep, and there are shepherds. Sheep follow the pundits, the polls, political expediency and promised perks. Shepherds follow principle. Gov. Mike Huckabee is such a man. So are those who stand on principle with him.
Well, now that McCain has secured the nomination and Huckabee has dropped out, Folger has suddenly abandoned all her talk of sheep and shepherds and declared that the prudent, principled thing to do is to vote for John McCain:

What a Difference One Month Makes

Just one month ago, Fidelis, a low-level right-wing organization always on the look-out for anything that might suggest anti-Catholic bigotry, especially as it pertains to Bush judicial nominees, was crowing that “social conservatives” had spoiled John McCain’s “campaign surge”:
A victory in Michigan would have locked in John McCain as the GOP front-runner, but conservatives suspicious of the Arizona Senator overwhelmingly voted against him Tuesday, handing the perceived front-runner a major defeat. “Social conservatives remain unconvinced whether John McCain is truly committed to the fundamental issues of life, faith and family. In the face of new developments on stem cell research, McCain continues to support using taxpayer dollars to fund embryo-killing research. On marriage, he not only voted against the federal marriage amendment, he has barely uttered a word on protecting the traditional family on the campaign trail. Values voters are looking for strong leadership in defense of life and family, and John McCain has yet to show how he will lead on these issues,” said Brian Burch, President of Fidelis. ... “Other conservatives are frustrated with McCain over immigration, his opposition to tax cuts, and his leading role in limiting the free speech of pro-life groups, and other advocacy groups during election campaigns. Put simply: John McCain hasn’t closed the sale with conservative voters,” continued Burch.
But apparently, in just one month’s time, McCain has managed to “close the sale with conservative voters” on all of these issues, because Fidelis has just endorsed him:

Fidelis Political Action, the political arm of the one of the fastest growing Catholic advocacy organizations, today announced that they have endorsed Senator John McCain in his bid for the Republican nomination for President. Brian Burch, President of Fidelis Political Action issued the following statement: “Fidelis is pleased to join a growing chorus of conservatives nationwide in supporting Senator John McCain in his bid for the presidency. As a Catholic based advocacy group, Fidelis believes McCain’s pro-life record, his commitment to selecting judges who will respect the Constitution, and even his controversial positions on immigration and torture merit the support of Catholics, and we are proud to stand with him as he prepares for a very difficult election ahead. … “The stakes of this election are too large to ignore. Abortion supporters are awaiting the opportunity to eliminate eight years of progress on pro-life legislation by electing a President who supports abortion. There are six justices on the Supreme Court over the age of 68, and granting a President Hillary or President Obama the opportunity to fill possible vacancies would be disastrous. Our endorsement of Sen. McCain is not simply a compromise endorsement. America needs the experienced leadership of John McCain.

What a miraculous turn of events! Do you suppose the presence of Joseph Cella - a former Fidelis president, Fred Thompson-backer, and anti-Rudy activist – on McCain’s newly announced Virginia Family Issues Leaders committee had anything to do with that?

Is McCain the New Giuliani?

With Rudy Giuliani's campaign tanking all around the country, the Religious Right's fears about a possible Giuliani victory appear to have been eased and they seem to have moved on from their incessant warnings that they would never support him and would, in fact, actively oppose him. But just because Giuliani is fading from the picture doesn't mean that the Right is placated. If anything, some right wing leaders seem to be growing increasingly fearful that another bête noire, John McCain, is emerging as a front-runner:
Paul M. Weyrich, national chairman of Sixty Votes Coalition PAC, says if the November choice is between Hillary Clinton and McCain, he would then look for a third party candidate whom he could back. This is no small matter. Weyrich has only one vote like the rest of us, but many conservatives would at least take his views into consideration when making up their own minds before casting their ballots. "I will not vote for him [McCain]," Weyrich told this column in an interview. "I can't" ... Weyrich could live with other prospective GOP nominees — in a couple of cases, hopefully gaining some concessions to the conservative position. But McCain — never.
The Right has never much liked or trusted McCain and any possibility of ever winning them over was probably doomed with he called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance" back in 2000. Of course, that didn't stop McCain from trying to make nice with many of them this time around, even if his efforts were half-hearted. But nothing has rankled the Right quite like McCain's role in the "Gang of 14" and they have never trusted him on the issue of judges in general, despite his pledges to "appoint justices such as Justice Roberts and Justice Alito." Some on the Right think they have good reason not to trust McCain on this issue:
Then there is the issue of judicial nominations, a top priority with conservatives. Nothing would improve Mr. McCain's standing with conservatives more than a forthright restatement of his previously stated view that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench." Mr. McCain bruised his standing with conservatives on the issue when in 2005 he became a key player in the so-called gang of 14, which derailed an effort to end Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."
Not surprisingly, this quote has been making its way around the right-wing blogosphere and the McCain campaign is desperately trying to back-peddle. The GOP and the Right may have thought they had dodged a bullet with Giuliani's fading campaign, but with McCain's rise in the polls, it looks as if they could be right back where they started.

Why Seek Consensus When You Can Complain?

As we have noted several times in the past, nothing can rally the Right quite like a battle over judicial nominations - and just because there aren't any high profile battles taking place right now doesn't mean the Right isn't still complaining about the issue:
In an interview with Cybercast News Service, Curt Levey, general counsel of the Committee for Justice, pointed out there is always a temptation for those who are in the opposite party from the president "to not fill vacancies in the hopes that the next president will be from their party." "That temptation becomes very great when you're only a few months away from an election," Levey added. However, Levey and others question whether the Thurmond Rule has ever actually existed. There is no explicit deadline for the rule to take effect within the election year, and the term "consensus nominee" also has no definitive meaning.
Levey might not believe the Thurmond Rule exists, but it does and this article from 1980 explains where it origniated:

REPUBLICANS FIGHT CARTER NOMINEES 14 September 1980 The New York Times Senate Republicans have begun an organized campaign to use various parliamentary strategems, from committee boycotts to filibusters, to ''slow down or completely stop'' Presidential appointments that could outlast the Carter Administration. The action was taken last month by the 41-member Senate Republican Caucus, which appointed a three-member committee to sift 155 pending Presidential nominations and weed out those whose terms would overlap that of a new President. The primary targets include 13 judicial nominees as well as nominees to vacancies on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and the Legal Services Corporation, among other agencies. Not affected are nominations to advisory boards and those who serve at the pleasure of the President without any fixed term. Republicans contend that they are merely upholding a Senate tradition in preventing President Carter from making election-year appointments to positions that a Republican President could be able to fill.

If Republicans are concerned about getting President Bush's judicial nominees confirmed before he leaves office, one way to overcome the Thurmond Rule would be to consult with senators and nominate consensus nominees - of course, that is exactly the opposite of what they are doing:

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, one of 14 senators who broke a logjam of judicial appointments in the 2005 ''Gang of 14'' compromise, said Thursday the White House has failed to consult with him on appointments to the federal district court in Denver. ''I have not been consulted with by the White House in any way, shape or form on these judicial nominations,'' said Salazar, a Democrat. ''In my view, it's a violation of our understanding with the president and the requirement of the Constitution.'' ... With pressure mounting to supply the president with names of potential judges, [Republican Senator Wayne] Allard said Thursday that he and Salazar could not agree on candidates after beginning discussion in September. Allard said he had proposed a list of four candidates that included a Democrat, an undecided and two Republicans one of which was endorsed by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, a former Denver district attorney. But Allard said Salazar, a Democrat, was unhappy with the list. Allard said he submitted the names anyway. ... Allard said the president has already vetted the names he submitted and is ready to release them.

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.    

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

Just days after the Religious Right’s B-team gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to question Republican candidates for president (including the ones who didn’t show up), a number of more prominent right-wing figures are convening in Tampa for the Family Impact Summit, sponsored by the Focus on the Family-affiliated Florida Family Policy Council, the Tampa-based Community Issues Council, the Family Research Council, and the Salem radio network.

Advertised topics range from “Christian Citizenship” to “Homosexual Agenda,” but the focus will no doubt be on the 2008 election, and in particular, the effort by Florida’s Right to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot—even though gays are already prohibited from marrying by statute.

Below is some background on the featured speakers, from Tony Perkins and Richard Land to Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, considered the leading religious-right think tank in Washington, DC. Before coming to FRC, Perkins was a state legislator in Louisiana, and as a campaign manager for a Republican candidate, he reportedly bought David Duke’s e-mail list.

Under Perkins’s leadership, FRC, along with Focus on the Family, put together several “simulcasts” of political rallies held in churches, including three “Justice Sunday” events in 2005-2006—“Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” ”God Save the United States and this Honorable Court,” and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”—featuring religious-right luminaries such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Phyllis Schlafly, along with politicians like Rick Santorum and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, arguing that opposition to Bush’s extreme judicial nominees constituted an assault on their faith or Christianity itself. A fourth event just before the 2006 elections, “Liberty Sunday,” promoted the idea that gays and their “agenda” were out to destroy religious freedom.

That fall, FRC also organized a “Values Voter Summit,” in which Dobson and other activists exhorted their constituency to turn out for the GOP; the conference showcased a number of future presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sam Brownback. A second Values Voter Summit is planned for next month.

Also appearing from FRC at the Family Impact Summit are David Prentice and Peter Sprigg.

Richard Land

Since 1998, Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is “dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress.”   

Land has been an active and influential right-wing leader for many years and in 2005, was named one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by Time Magazine, joining the likes of James Dobson, Chuck Colson, David Barton, Rick Santorum, and Ted Haggard.

Land also hosts three separate nationally syndicated radio programs and has written several books including, most recently “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!,” which Land claims seeks a middle ground between the right and the left on the role of religion in the public square.  In reality, the middle ground Land stakes out consists mainly of standard right-wing positions on political and social issues that are made to appear moderate in comparison to ultra-radical positions put forth by far-right fringe elements.  

In recent months, Land has been positioning himself to play a much more high-profile role in the presidential campaign than he has in the past, repeatedly asserting that he and other Evangelicals will not support Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, should he run,  while regularly bolstering the campaign of Fred Thompson, who Land calls a “Southern-fried Reagan.”

Harry Jackson

Jackson, pastor of a Maryland megachurch, has become a frequent spokesman for right-wing causes in recent years. In 2004, he played a prominent role in urging blacks to vote for George Bush, and in 2005, he started the High Impact Leadership Coalition and unveiled his “Black Contract with America on Moral Values”—an agenda topped with fighting gay marriage—at an event co-sponsored by the far-right Traditional Values Coalition. Jackson spoke at “Justice Sunday,” a religious-right rally in favor of Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as “Justice Sunday II, where he promised to “bring the rule and reign of the Cross to America.” He is a member of the Arlington Group.

Since then, Jackson has continued to urge blacks to vote for right-wing causes and candidates. “[Martin Luther] King would most likely be a social conservative,” he wrote in one typical column. His most recent efforts have focused on opposing hate crimes protections for gays, falsely claiming that a proposed bill would “muzzle our pulpits.”

In an article in Charisma magazine, Jackson wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic,” and he called for an aggressive “counterattack.” He asserted to The New York Times that “Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage.”

Don Wildmon

Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light. 

Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox.  AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.

Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer. 

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is a long-time right-wing activist and leader.  After serving President Ronald Reagan's administration for eight years in various capacities, Bauer went on to become President of the Family Research Council, which was founded, in part, by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, where Bauer also served as Senior Vice President. 

Bauer stepped down from FRC in 1999 when he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.  After dropping out of the race, Bauer made a surprising endorsement of Sen. John McCain at a time when many of the other right-wing leaders had lined up behind George W. Bush.  

Bauer’s standing took a beating when he defended McCain’s attack on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” and he was ostracized by many for quite a while after McCain lost.  But Bauer pressed ahead, creating his own non-profit, American Values, and gradually reestablished himself in right-wing circles.  

Since then, Bauer has been active in various right-wing campaigns, most notably joining with likes of Tony Perkins and James Dobson in defending and pressing for the confirmation of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.  

William Owens

Owens, a graduate of Oral Roberts University and a Memphis pastor, founded the Coalition of African American Pastors to combat equal marriage rights for gay couples. Owens reportedly told the “Rally for Traditional Marriage” held in Mississippi in 2004 that “homosexual activists of today have hijacked the civil rights cause,” adding: “We're going to fight until we win,” he said. “We're going to have crusades and rallies like this until we win. We're going to let our political leaders know ‘if you don't stand for God, we won't stand for you.’” Owens lent the CAAP name to the Religious Right’s judges campaign, signing on to the “National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters” and holding a press conference in support of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination.

In 2004, Owens formed an alliance with the Arlington Group, a coalition of powerful religious-right leaders that was widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in 11 states in that year’s election. Owens is now on the group’s executive committee, alongside James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Tony Perkins, Paul Weyrich, Rod Parsley and others.

Alan Chambers

"Ex-gay" Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International and executive director of Exodus North America, which claim gay men and lesbians can be “cured" and "change" their sexual orientation to heterosexual. Exodus' board includes long-time anti-gay activist Phil Burress of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, his wife Vickie Burress – founder of the American Family Association of Indiana – and Mike Haley, who replaced discredited "ex-gay" John Paulk at Focus on the Family as chief spokesperson on homosexuality and gender issues. Exodus also co-sponsors a series of "ex-gay" conferences across the country with Focus on the Family. One recent Love Won Out event was particularly mired in controversy when it was revealed that one of its presenting organizations had published a racist column that appeared to justify slavery. During a 2006 CPAC conference panel, Chambers insisted "lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible" and the battle for marriage equality was solely being promoted by the liberal media.

Other representatives of the “ex-gay” activist community scheduled for the conference include Scott Davis and Mike Ensley of Exodus and Nancy Heche, whose book “The Truth Comes Out” describes “how to respond lovingly, yet appropriately, to homosexual family members and friends,” such as her husband, who held secret “homosexual affairs,” and her daughter, whose open relationship with Ellen DeGeneres Heche called “Like a betrayal of an unspoken vow: We will never have anything to do with homosexuals.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is something of a journeyman within the right-wing movement.  After starting out as a journalist and editor for various newspapers, Knight has held a series of jobs with various right-wing organizations including Senior Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and director of the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America.

Currently, he is the head of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center and a columnist for Townhall.com.

His hostility toward gays is well-known, as evidenced by his response to the news that Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of the Vice President, was expecting a child with her partner: 

"I think it's tragic that a child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father," Knight said.

"Fatherhood is important and always will be, so if Mary and her partner indicate that that is a trivial matter, they're shortchanging this child from the start."

"Mary and Heather can believe what they want," Knight said, "but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values."

John Stemberger

Stemberger, a personal injury attorney and former political director for the Florida GOP, is the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Counsel/Florida Family Action, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

Stemberger is leading the petition drive to put on next year’s ballot a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, which is already banned by statute. While a 2006 effort fell short, as of September 5, Florida4Marriage.org claimed to have gathered 594,000 of the 611,000 signatures they need to submit by February 1, making it likely that the amendment will be on the ballot in 2008.

Ken Blackwell

Blackwell is most famous as the controversial Ohio secretary of state during the 2004 election, overseeing voting laws while moonlighting as state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. But he has a long history of far-right activism on economic and civil rights issues, and in 2004 Blackwell forged an alliance with the Religious Right as he campaigned for an anti-gay ballot measure. By 2006, when Blackwell ran for governor, this alliance had grown into a church-based political machine, with megachurch pastors Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson taking Blackwell to rallies of “Patriot Pastors,” who signed on to a vision of a Christianity under attack by dark forces, in need of “restoration” through electoral politics. “This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell,” declared Johnson.

Blackwell’s gubernatorial bid failed, but he continues his career as a right-wing activist with affiliations with the Family Research Council and the Club for Growth, as well as a column on Townhall.com.

Katherine Harris

Harris is well known for her controversial role in Florida’s 2000 presidential election debacle, when she served as both secretary of state, overseeing a “purge” of voter rolls as well as the recount itself, and as a state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and 2004, and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in both 2002 and 2003.

In 2006 Harris made a quixotic Senate run, during which she heavily courted the Religious Right. In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, she implied that her opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, was not a Christian, saying, “[I]f you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.” She also advised people to disbelieve “that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state.”

Tom Minnery

Minnery is vice president for public policy at Focus on the Family and a frequent spokesman for the group. He is the author of “Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture,” arguing that society should be “changed from the top down morally.” Focus on the Family, with a combined budget of over $160 million, promotes far-right positions on social issues to millions of Americans through radio, print, and the web, and Focus founder James Dobson is probably the single most influential figure on the Religious Right.

“There are more than enough Christians to defeat the Left," Minnery said at a rally in South Dakota. "There are a lot of pastors who didn't want to be seen as an 'activist,' but this issue of marriage has left them with little choice but to get involved."

When You’re Down, Pick a Fight

Suppose you are the President of the United States and you are nearing the end of your time in office with dismal approval ratings and a history of seeing a bunch of your controversial judicial nominees run into opposition in the Senate for a variety of reasons, so much so that you had even been forced to withdraw more than one nominee to the Fourth Circuit because of such opposition.  

Would you, in an attempt to find nominees that could win widespread support, consider listening to home state Senators when they make bipartisan recommendations for filling vacancies to that circuit?  

Not if you are George W. Bush:

The ACLJ's Influence Growing

The Chicago Tribune profiles Jay Sekulow and his work at Pat Robertson's Amercian Center for Law and Justice, highlighting its $35 million budget, staff of 130, and Sekulow's role in picking and supporting President Bush's judicial nominees. More importantly, it reports that the ACLJ is focusing its efforts on winning lower-profile but no less influential cases: "You really don't see the pro-life protests on the courthouse square or in front of the abortion clinic. Now it's more these kinds of cases. Nuanced. There's federal legislation involved in this. There's state legislation. There's state regulatory issues. It's Title VII. So it's much more nuanced."

Ailing Televangelist and Religious-Right Pioneer Retires

D. James Kennedy

D. James Kennedy, who built up Fort Lauderdale, Florida megachurch and television empire over the last half-century, has officially retired, eight months after he was first hospitalized following a heart attack. Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has nearly 10,000 members, and his broadcast ministry claims 3.5 million listeners and viewers, but he is best known as one of the founding figures of the Religious Right in the early 1980s, known as the “Ivy League Jerry Falwell.”

Kennedy, who once said that “the diabolical mission” of People For the American Way was “to crush the influence of the Christian religion in American society,” became active in political issues from battling pornography, “secularized” education, abortion, and civil rights for gays to supporting Reagan administration policies like SDI, Iran-Contra, and the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. His involvement grew in the 1990s and 2000s, as he organized national conferences for religious-right activism and expanded his influence in Washington.

The 76-year-old Kennedy’s retirement comes just a few months after the death of Jerry Falwell, and again heralds the inevitable passing of the older generation of religious-right leaders -- Falwell, Kennedy, 71-year-old James Dobson, 69-year-old Don Wildmon, and others who built the infrastructure and set the pattern for fundamentalism-charged politics.

Much more on D. James Kennedy’s political career below.

Right Anticipates 2008 Campaign on Supreme Court

While most coverage of the 2008 presidential race is focused on political sparring between candidates within each party, there are already some hints of what shape the general election will take. The Committee for Justice, a group formed to support Bush’s right-wing judicial nominees, takes as a given that Sen. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, and warns that the Supreme Court may be the “most important reason” to oppose her:

This might be a good time to remind people of one of the main reasons why conservatives and libertarians need to come together and defeat Senator Clinton next fall: The future of the Supreme Court. Clinton, who voted against Roberts and voted to filibuster Alito, will, at best (from a constitutionalist’s point of view), have the opportunity to replace one or more of the activists on the Court with a younger activist, and at worst will have a chance to replace someone who adheres to the Constitution with someone who would impose left-wing policies via judicial fiat.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee is already raising money around the courts:

President Bush has appointed jurists who faithfully and impartially interpret the law and do not legislate from the bench.  If a liberal Democrat like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is elected President, our entire judicial system could swing dangerously to the left, causing a flood of bad decisions by liberal activist judges.

Stuck in the Mud, Right Wing Forgets Its Happy Days with Rove

For many frustrated right-wing activists, news of Karl Rove’s departure from the White House may have felt like good riddance to bad rubbish. Richard Viguerie called it “good news for conservatives.” Paul Weyrich, another old hand of the conservative movement, said, “You have to say that if (Rove) can claim credit for what happened in 2004, it is reasonable that he is somewhat responsible for where we are in 2007.”

But if these right-wing activists can pin the blame for the administration’s woes on the president’s erstwhile “architect,” they will have a hard time glossing over Rove’s role in giving them an important berth of political power in the Bush White House.

Religious Right Claims Others Can't Be Christian, Have Values

The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal politicians “are spouting God-talk” in order to “confuse people of faith” and hide their “true agenda.” Invoking the Religious Right’s recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency – as well as the “Swift Boat” campaign of 2004 – the so-called “Values Voters for Truth” campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals – and, obviously, Democratic candidates – as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking a conspiracy to “deceive and split values voters.” From a recent fundraising letter from FRC Action:

Our relentless effort to reveal the facts about the Left’s true agenda is already under way. It will not stop until the last vote of the 2008 election has been cast. The Values Voters for Truth campaign will partner with organizations in all 50 states—and at the national level. We will mobilize values voters, engage them in the war of ideas, and keep them informed and involved.

We will rally churches to the cause. And by God’s grace, we will neutralize our opponents’ deceptive tactics.

As an example of this supposed “fraud,” the letter cites a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke of his “belief in Christ” and also supports civil unions for gay couples. Similarly, the letter warns that a candidate noting a “biblical call to feed the hungry” also voted against an anti-abortion bill. A third candidate is denounced for the “hypocrisy” of wanting to let gay couples adopt children. According to FRC, these supposed contradictions indicate that Democrats discussing their faith and values is merely “lip service,” part of a “campaign of deception” that led directly to the Democrats winning control of Congress in the 2006 elections.

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judicial nominees Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 04/09/2010, 3:14pm
I know that I made this point just the other day, but I think it warrants repeating by highlighting this absurd statement from Phyllis Schlalfy on how President Obama must nominate a veteran to the Supreme Court to replace John Paul Stevens: "The vacancy resulting from Stevens' retirement is significant because it means that the Supreme Court is at risk of being left without a single military veteran. For as long as I can remember, the U.S. Supreme Court has included at least one military veteran. "Considering President Obama's weak and highly unpopular track record on... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 03/22/2010, 1:40pm
A few weeks ago the right-wing Judicial Confirmation Network, which was founded to help ensure the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees, announced that it was changing its name to the Judicial Crisis Network to better reflect the fact that, well, getting judges confirmed was no longer its primary mission now that President Obama was doing the nominating. Now it appears as if JCN is undergoing even more changes, as longtime Chief Counsel and spokesperson Wendy Long has left and been replaced by Carrie Severino: Today the Judicial Crisis Network (Formerly: The Judicial... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 03/02/2010, 4:10pm
If you need any more proof that Senate Republicans' sole mission at the moment is to prevent anything from happening in their chamber of Congress, look no further than the fact that today the Senate had to seek cloture on the nomination Barbara Milano Keenan to fill a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, resulting in a vote of 99-0. That's right - not one Republican senator spoke against her qualifications, record, or views or voted to prevent her nomination from receiving an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor ... and yet still they filibustered, forcing Democrats to seek a... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 02/11/2010, 12:42pm
Last year, I wrote a series of posts noting that with the election of Barack Obama, the right-wing Judicial Confirmation Network, which was formed specifically to help President Bush's judicial nominees get confirmed, would probably have to change its name as well as its mission to "support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States [and] ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote." Well, guess what?  The Judicial... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/30/2009, 3:56pm
Back in 2005, when the Gang of 14 came together to thwart the Senate Republican majority's efforts to end the use of the filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees, Sen. Jeff Sessions could barely hide his disappointment that he and his Republican colleagues did not get the chance to deploy the "nuclear option": I am disappointed that this agreement did not provide the other nominees the right to a vote. I was prepared to support the Constitutional option, because these systematic filibusters amounted to an affront to the Constitution and could not be allowed to stand. I... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/18/2009, 12:04pm
It came as no surprise when Republicans attempted to filibuster the nomination of David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday considering that Sen. Jeff Sessions announced weeks ago that he intended to do so, depsite having opposed the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees when President Bush was in office. Sessions' effort was supported by a gaggle of right-wing activists who likewise opposed the filibuster when it was used against Bush's nominees, but suddenly abandoned their supposedly deeply-help and principled opposition to this sort of "unconstitutional... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 11/13/2009, 5:17pm
I guess it should come as no surprise that Erick Erickson of Red State is leading the crusade urging Senate Republicans to filibuster David Hamilton's nomination: Senator Jeff Sessions is calling on his colleagues to filibuster Judge David Hamilton. Go here and call your Senator. Tell your Senator to oppose cloture on David Hamilton and filibuster his nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. At this point, seemingly everyone on the Right who, just a few years ago, was railing against the "unconstitutional" filibuster of judicial nominees has suddenly changed their tune... MORE