judicial nominees

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.

Those Cursed Litmus Tests

For years now, the Right has hewed to the same cheap rhetorical and intellectually dishonest argument that there is some sort of substantive difference between a president having a so-called “litmus test” for judicial nominees versus, say, a pledge merely to nominate “strict constructionists.”   

Whereas having a “litmus test” for judges tends to mean that the president will only nominate individuals who will rule in a certain way on specific issues or cases, usually Roe vs. Wade, pledging to nominate “strict constructionists” or some other euphemism merely means pledging only to nominate individuals who hold a specific legal philosophy – one that just so happens to be fundamentally hostile to, and seeks to overturn, Roe vs. Wade.   

According to the Right, the latter is good while the former is bad – which is how we end up with this sort of thing:

Litmus tests for judges might be on the horizon if Democratic presidential hopefuls like Senator Barak Obama (D-Illinois) are elected to office -- so says the nation's largest women's pro-life activism group.

Obama recently told abortion advocates at a Planned Parenthood conference that the ban on partial-birth abortion was a concerted effort to roll back legalized abortion. He also informed the gathering that if elected, he would only nominate judges who "have empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young pregnant teenager." But Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, warns that what Obama and others are proposing is frightening -- a litmus test for judicial nominees.

"It is a bit shocking of an admission that a presidential candidate would say that they would have an abortion litmus test for Supreme Court nominees," says Wright; "that only if someone believes in abortion-on-demand could they be able to get an appointment onto the Supreme Court."

Since “litmus tests” are so bad, presumably CWA is equally concerned about Sam Brownback’s blatant one:

Sen. Sam Brownback was one of three Republican presidential candidates to address the National Right to Life convention Friday at a forum for those seeking the GOP nomination. He said that, as president, he would like to nominate the next Supreme Court justice who could provide the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“We're one vote shy on the Supreme Court. I want to be the president to appoint that justice,“ the GOP contender said.

Strangely, CWA hasn’t voiced much concern about Brownback’s “shocking of an admission that a presidential candidate would say that they would have an abortion litmus test for Supreme Court nominees.” 

One also wonders if CWA will soon be backing Rudy Giuliani, since he has explicitly stated that he would have no abortion litmus test for his judicial nominees and is busy running around the country telling everyone who will listen merely that he will “will nominate strict constructionist judges with respect for the rule of law and a proven fidelity to the Constitution – judges in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito and Chief Justice Roberts.”

Or maybe not:

The decision about whether to support Giuliani will be difficult for conservative evangelicals, said Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute.

"When evangelicals have to weigh in the balance his obvious leadership skills as opposed to his stance on abortion," she said, "and when they have to weigh his public confidence alongside his personal divorces—this will be the real litmus test."

Giuliani Pledges Judges like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito

Writing for Pajamas Media, Giuliani vows to "nominate strict constructionist judges with respect for the rule of law and a proven fidelity to the Constitution – judges in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito and Chief Justice Roberts." Also says he'll push the Senate to vote on judicial nominees within 90 days.

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.

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.

The Next Nominee

As we noted repeatedly over the last several years, the president’s power to nominate individuals to federal court and most importantly, the Supreme Court is an issue of paramount importance to the nation and control over the process has long been the number one political priority for the Right.  

The nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito were met with jubilation by the Right and with the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, President Bush appears to have delivered on their demands for reliable,  hard-line ideologues:   

Vision America

What a vivid reminder this is that Christians must remain politically active -- as it was Values Voters who are responsible for this first step toward overturning Roe v. Wade … This should be a stark reminder to Christians of what’s at stake in the next election.

Traditional Values Coalition

The 5-4 decision, which included Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, clearly shows the importance of having strong judicial conservatives on the bench.

Christian Defense Coalition

There is no doubt this decision would not have been reached if Sandra Day O'Connor were still on the bench instead of Samuel Alito.  If President Bush gets an opportunity to nominate another Supreme Court Justice, he could shape the direction of the court for a generation to come.  Also, that next appointment may be the 'swing' vote in overturning Roe.

Rep. John Boehner

[T]his decision is further confirmation Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, President Bush's two successful appointments to the high court, are who we hoped and thought they were.

Janet Folger

One more president. One more judge. And one more chance to finish the work we began 34 years ago. Our work is not in vain.

Gary Cass

Dr. Gary Cass, executive director of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, responded, "This is what we hoped and prayed for when we elected pro-life Americans who would nominate and confirm judicial nominees. This is what we hoped and prayed for when two new Supreme Court justices were added to the bench. Today, those years of hoping and praying have borne the best kind of fruit—-the protection of defenseless lives."

Richard Land

Thank God for President Bush, and thank God for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

Tony Perkins

[The] president of the Family Research Council said the decision vindicated the 2004 victory of Mr. Bush and "shows that elections have consequences." Since conservatives "know that next vacancy is just so incredibly important."

It is not often that we find ourselves in agreement with Tony Perkins, but when he notes that this decision shows just why the “next vacancy is just so incredibly important” we couldn’t agree more.   

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judicial nominees Posts Archive

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
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/10/2009, 4:55pm
Once upon a time, activists on the Right were vehemently opposed to the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees, declaring on principle that its use was flagrantly unconstitutional and calling on Senate Republicans to do away with the Democratic minority's ability to use them against President Bush's nominees. But then President Obama took office and made a Supreme Court nomination and those "principles" went right out the window and suddenly those who had been, just a few years earlier, decrying the filibuster as downright evil were championing it. Which brings us to this... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/02/2009, 3:01pm
Back in March, President Obama nominated David Hamilton to a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and immediately the Right set about trying to kill his nomination. They failed and Hamilton was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June and has since been waiting for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor.  And if Sen. Jeff Sessions gets his way, Hamilton won't ever get one, as Sessions is trying to round up support for a filibuster of his nomination by sending around a letter [PDF] to his colleagues laying out his opposition to the nomination which concludes with this... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 07/21/2009, 12:35pm
Despite the fact that it has only been a few weeks since Ralph Reed announced the formation of his new Faith and Freedom Coalition and that the effort appears to consist entirely of a bare-bones website, he is getting lots of attention and is seemingly succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right.Today, Reed was interviewed by Newsmax where he gave his thoughts on Sonia Sotomayor, the Obama administration, and the 2012 GOP presidential primary, as well as explaining just what role his new Faith and Freedom Coalition... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/02/2009, 10:29am
Yesterday we noted that Manuel Miranda and his Third Branch Conference (formerly known as the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters) had returned and sent a letter to Republican Senators demanding that they carry out a "traditional filibuster" against Sonia Sotomayor.Though the letter was signed by more than a hundred right-wing leaders and activists, Miranda is and always has been the leader of these efforts ... and now he's taking his demands one step further:[I]n an interview with POLITICO, Manuel Miranda – who orchestrated the letter – went much farther,... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/01/2009, 5:56pm
It looks like Manuel Miranda is back and up to his old tricks.  As I wrote back in 2006:Ever since losing his job with Sen. Frist a few years ago, Manuel Miranda has refashioned himself as a one-man, right-wing force to be reckoned with on judicial nominations. Even before stepping down, Miranda was working behind the scenes, orchestrating the GOP’s 2003 “reverse filibuster” protest.After a short-lived disgrace caused by his run-in with basic ethics, Miranda returned to the scene with the launching of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, since renamed... MORE