Judiciary

The Right Readies for Sotomayor

With Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing getting underway, the Right readies its attacks.

Manuel Miranda says "the Sotomayor hearings are a spotlight on the president who nominated her, and if the Republicans don't use it that way they are fools."

Yesterday, the Christian Defense Coalition held a prayer vigil outside the Supreme Court  while Randall Terry is planning more protests:

On Monday, a Sotomayor look alike will parade around with a "Sickle of Death," showing Sotomayor's support of the slaughter of unborn children. There will also be child coffins holding "dead babies."

Randall Terry States:

"We are tired of Senators using unborn babies to seduce pro-lifers before elections - taking pro-lifers' volunteer labor, money, and votes - only to cast us and the babies aside like an embarrassing mistress after an election. It is disgusting.

"Any pro-life Senator who votes for Sotomayor is turning their back on unborn children and continuing this holocaust. They can't say, 'I want to overturn Roe,' and then confirm a Supreme Court Judge who will uphold Roe. To do so is hypocrisy, cowardice, and treachery of the first order.

Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network lists some questions she want to see asked:

Does Judge Sotomayor believe the abortion industry should be excused from having to prove its case in court when it sues to strike down a duly-enacted abortion regulation?

Does she believe medical records are relevant and admissible as a general matter but not if they involve abortion?

Does Sotomayor have such great faith in abortion providers that she is willing to accept their verbal claims as fact and impose them as a matter of law?

The American Center for Law and Justice likewise wants to see "tough questions" asked:

“The Senate must fulfill its constitutional role in providing advice and consent and that means asking the tough, in-depth questions about Judge Sotomayor’s view of the Constitution and her judicial philosophy,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “What does Judge Sotomayor believe is the proper role of judges? How does she view her role as a judge? These are important questions that deserve straight-forward answers. A Supreme Court appointment is the lasting legacy of a President. And, as President Obama moves to reshape the federal judiciary, it’s critical that the American people understand the judicial philosophy and temperament of Judge Sotomayor. Let’s not forget the scope and intensity of questions posed to President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees – John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The questioning of Judge Sotomayor must be direct, focused and in-depth. The nominee must answer the questions clearly and without reservation. The American people deserve nothing less.”

Concerned Women for America is sending a letter to Senators asking them to oppose her nomination:

CWALAC President Wendy Wright said, "Sonia Sotomayor has lived the American dream. Rising from a poor childhood to being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor is a testimony to the opportunities and blessings of America. But as we investigate her record, we are struck by her unwillingness to allow others to have the same opportunities as she has had. Her record reveals she lacks the primary characteristic required of a judge: impartiality. She has used her position as a judge to deny equal opportunity to people based on their ethnicity. She worked with organizations that aggressively fought against basic human rights for preborn children and ethical rights to ensure women and girls are not coerced into abortion. After giving her the benefit of the doubt, her record of giving preferences to certain classes of people and denying equal justice to others obliges Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee to oppose her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. We urge senators to vote against her nomination.

The Traditional Values Coalition has released a "scorecard" containing "16 questions Americans must demand U.S. Senators ask Judge Sonia Sotomayor before approving her lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land."  The questions include [PDF]:

How can we expect her to rule impartially on the law and the Constitution when she considers herself a world citizen – and openly supports Obama’s political agenda? She has violated the code of conduct for judges and should be disqualified.

Does Judge Sotomayor still believe in the superiority of female Hispanic justices over justices of other races and sex?

Why did race disqualify Miguel Estrada from receiving Senate approval, but not Sonia Sotomayor?

Will Judge Sotomayor refrain from abusing her new power on the Supreme Court to bring about radical change in American society?

Finally, the Committee for Justice claims that Sotomayor is as unpopular as was Harriet Miers and unveils two ads calling for her defeat, with one contrasting her to Martin Luther King and another claiming she wants to "take away your guns":

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Mike Huckabee will be kicking off the Values Voter Summit.
  • The GOP does not have a lot of celebrity supporters, so I really, really hope  that it makes good use of Victoria Jackson.
  • I'm pretty sure that most of the Young Cons' "success" - as measured by YouTube views - has come from people who are mocking them.
  • The Birther movement in Congress is picking up more supporters.
  • Apparently, today was National "Stop S. 909" Day whereby the Religious Right mobilized to oppose hate crimes legislation. Strangely, outside of this one article, I could find no evidence that these groups were actually doing any mobilizing.
  • Bishop Jackson says he'll soon be filing paperwork to launch a voter initiative, similar to California's Proposition 8, that would affirm marriage between a man and a woman in DC.
  • Pat Mahoney and Rob Schenck delivered their official prayer ahead of Sonia Sotomayor's hearing.
  • Charlie Crist has massively out-raised his primary rival, and darling of the social conservatives, Marco Rubio.
  • Gary Bauer continues to insist that Sarah Palin's decision to suddenly resign was a brilliant move.
  • The House of Representatives voted 399-1 for the Capitol Visitors Center to have a plaque acknowledging the role of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol. The one "no" vote came from Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who insists he did so in order to protect America's Judeo-Christian heritage.
  • Finally, who ever could have ever predicted that putting David Barton and other religious-right ideologues on the panel of experts responsible for setting Texas schools' social studies curriculum would lead to them asserting that civil rights leaders like César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall are given too much attention?

Roberts and Alito: Good for Women, Sotomayor: Bad

Apparently the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito were great things for women in this country whereas the possible confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, an actual woman, would be a bad thing - at least that seems to be the message of the Women's Coalition for Justice:

Members of the Women's Coalition for Justice released the following statements in advance of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor beginning next Monday.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, stated, "Women are best protected by the rule of law -- and blind justice. Their rights are most endangered when personal preference, ideology or painful personal history inform judgment ... Given what we know about Sonia Sotomayor's own judicial philosophy, including her support of policymaking from the bench, senators have just cause to reject her appointment to the United States Supreme Court."

Genevieve Wood, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, The Heritage Foundation ..."[Sonia Sotomayor's] statements raise grave concerns about whether she can truly be impartial and the current defense that she simply endorses including different perspectives doesn't hold water. The Senators must ask challenging questions to determine whether she believes that a wise woman can reach the same conclusion as a wise man, or whether she intends to bring bias, as she has suggested, even to most cases."

Connie Mackey, Senior Vice President for FRCAction ... Women think independently and most women will see that Sonia Sotomayor is a judicial activist who will use the courts to make policy reflective of her own personal judgments as opposed to ruling based upon the tenets put forth by the Constitution.

Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life remarked ... "Her record of activism in support of a radical pro-abortion agenda is clear and documented. This is a judge with a record significantly worse than Judge Souter's. We are asking the Senate Judiciary Committee to seriously consider the consequences of confirming a Supreme Court justice whose radical record shows she would rule against all common-sense legal protections for the unborn, including parental notification, informed consent and bans on partial-birth abortion. The American people will not tolerate a nominee who is outside the mainstream of American public opinion."

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee stated, "Sonia Sotomayor's record reveals she lacks the primary characteristic required of a judge -- impartiality ... After giving her the benefit of the doubt, her record of giving preferences to certain classes of people and denying equal justice to others obliges Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee to oppose her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor has disqualified herself from the U.S. Supreme Court. Senators need to set aside their party loyalty and do their Constitutional duty to uphold equal justice for all by opposing Sonia Sotomayor's nomination."

Not surprisingly, many of these same conservative women also participated in the "Women For Roberts" coalition which held a press conference at which they praised the fact that John Roberts "doesn't have a sexist bone in his body" as well as a “Women for Alito” press conference to make the case that "Samuel Alito possesses the capability, character and commitment to the law America needs in a Supreme Court justice, and he deserves a swift and fair confirmation."

So there you have it: the appointment of ultra-conservative men to the Supreme Court by President Bush greatly advances the interests of women, whereas the appointment of an actual woman by President Obama greatly undermines those interests and Senators have an obligation to uphold the rights of all women by rejecting the nomination of this particular woman.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Right Starts A New Group

Despite all of the predictions that the Religious Right was on its deathbed, they sure do seem to be extremely active of late.

Of course, they don't seem to have any new ideas or desire to change their agenda in any way, but in last few months have seen a flurry of new groups popping up designed to fill some unseen void that has been apparently responsible for their current predicament.

In the last few months we seen the arrival of the Faith and Freedom Institute, which was followed by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, while Newt Gingrich was unveiling his Renewing American Leadership effort, and Lou Engle was announcing his Call to Action.

And now we come to find out via Pam that pretty much every Religious Right group has joined together under the umbrella of something called The Freedom Federation, incuding Renewing American Leadership and Call to Action, which were just recently created - so now you have two new groups created specifically to fill this void joining a new coalition effort ... designed to fill this very same void:

Press Conference to discuss the formation of the Freedom Federation and its purpose.

The Freedom Federation is a new and unique federation of some of the largest multi-ethnic and transgenerational faith-based organizations in the country committed to plan, strategize, and work together on common interests within the Judeo-Christian tradition to mobilize their grassroots constituencies and to communicate faith and values to the religious, social, cultural, and policymaking institutions.

-- American Association of Christian Counselors
-- American Family Association
-- Americans for Prosperity
-- Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND)
-- Campaign for Working Families
-- Catholic Online
-- Concerned Women for America
-- Conservative Action Project
-- Eagle Forum
-- Exodus International
-- Faith and Action
-- Family Research Council
-- High Impact Leadership
-- Liberty Alliance Action
-- Liberty Counsel
-- Liberty University
-- Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN)
-- Marc Nuttle
-- Morning Star Ministries
-- National Clergy Council
-- National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
-- Renewing American Leadership
-- Strang Communications
-- Teen Mania
-- The Call to Action
-- Traditional Values Coalition
-- Vision America

Wow - did they put this coalition together by going through our list of right-wing organizations and simply inviting all the groups and individuals we write about most frequently to join?  Sorry,  Christian Anti-Defamation Commission  - if only we had written about you a few more times, maybe you would have been deemed worthy of inclusion in this ground-breaking new effort by the Religious Right ... to do whatever it is this new organization is going to do.

Honestly, what purpose can this possibly serve?  Are the Council for National Policy and the Arlington Group somehow lacking and so these groups decided that what they really needed was yet another coalition to carry out the same work?

Anyway, this effort seems to be organized by Rick Scarborough ... or at least he is the first to send out a press release trying to take credit for it:

Today, representatives of some of America's largest faith-based groups gathered in the nation's capital to announce that they will organize and mobilize their grassroots constituencies in a common cause.

At the National Press Club, Vision America President Pastor Rick Scarborough joined other conservative leaders, including Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University Law School and the Federation's convener, to formally announce the formation of the Freedom Federation.

The Federation encompasses individuals of different races, faiths and backgrounds who are committed to the preservation of freedom and American values, founded on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Freedom Federation is not a separate organization, but an association of like-minded national organizations with large and unique religious and political constituencies.

...

Scarborough commented: "These organizations represent some of the nation's largest constituencies of youth, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, pastors and churches, who are uniting to defend a tradition increasingly under attack."

The Freedom Federation is committed to defending and extending core values expressed in the Declaration of American Values, the organization's founding document. These include the right to life, the institution of marriage, parental rights, religious liberty, an environment free of pornography and indecency, the right to property, freedom from excessive taxation, and national sovereignty. The statement is posted on the Vision America website at www.visionamerica.us.

And here is their Declaration of American Values, which they vow to protect with their lives:

We the people of the United States of America, at this crucial time in history, do hereby affirm the core consensus values which form the basis of America’s greatness, that all men and women from every race and ethnicity are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We adhere to the rule of law embodied in the Constitution of the United States and to the principles of liberty on which America was founded. In order to maintain the blessings of liberty and justice for ourselves and our posterity, and recognizing that personal responsibility is the basis of our self-governing Nation, we declare our allegiance –

1. To secure the sanctity of human life by affirming the dignity of and right to life for the disabled, the ill, the aged, the poor, the disadvantaged, and for the unborn from the moment of conception. Every person is made in the image of God, and it is the responsibility and duty of all individuals and communities of faith to extend the hand of loving compassion to care for those in poverty and distress.

2. To secure our national interest in the institution of marriage and family by embracing the union of one man and one woman as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family.

3. To secure the fundamental rights of parents to the care, custody, and control of their children regarding their upbringing and education.

4. To secure the free exercise of religion for all people, including the freedom to acknowledge God through our public institutions and other modes of public expression and the freedom of religious conscience without coercion by penalty or force of law.

5. To secure the moral dignity of each person, acknowledging that obscenity, pornography, and indecency debase our communities, harm our families, and undermine morality and respect. Therefore, we promote enactment and enforcement of laws to protect decency and morality.

6. To secure the right to own, possess and manage private property without arbitrary interference from government, while acknowledging the necessity of maintaining a proper and balanced care and stewardship of the environment and natural resources for the health and safety of our families.

7. To secure the individual right to own, possess, and use firearms as central to the preservation of peace and liberty.

8. To secure a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches within both state and federal governments, so that no one branch – particularly the judiciary – usurps the authority of the other two, and to maintain the constitutional principles of federalism which divide power between the state and federal governments.

9. To secure our national sovereignty and domestic tranquility by maintaining a strong military; establishing and maintaining secure national borders; participating in international and diplomatic affairs without ceding authority to foreign powers that diminish or interfere with our unalienable rights; and being mindful of our history as a nation of immigrants, promoting immigration policies that observe the rule of law and are just, fair, swift, and foster national unity.

10. To secure a system of fair taxes that are not punitive against the institution of marriage or family and are not progressive in nature, and within a limited government framework, to encourage economic opportunity, free enterprise, and free market competition.

We hereby pledge our Names, our Lives and our Sacred Honor to this Declaration of American Values.

The Right's Hate Crimes Opposition in a Nutshell

One point I have tried to make in my various posts about the Religious Right's opposition to expanding hate crimes protection to cover "sexual orientation" is the fundamental disconnect between their claims and the basic facts.

As I've said before the Religious Right has two basic options in explaining it opposition to adding sexual orientation: 1) explain why something like religion receives and deserves protection while sexual orientation does not, even though there are nearly 2.5 times as many violent hate crimes targeting individuals because of their sexual orientation as there are violent crimes targeting individuals because of religion or 2) advocate doing away with hate crimes laws completely while explaining why the existing enhanced penalties for a racist who burns a cross on someone's lawn or a neo-Nazi who burns down a synagogue are "extraneous and obsolete."

But instead of doing either of these things, Religious Right groups tend to try and muddy the waters by conflating all of the issues.  Case in point is the written testimony [PDF] the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the legislation in which he claims to oppose hate crimes laws in general but then admits that what he really opposes is expanding existing law to cover sexual orientation:

The Family Research Council strongly opposes the enactment of a Federal hate crimes law (H.R. 1913).

Hate crime laws force the court to guess the thoughts and beliefs which lie behind a crime, instead of looking at the crime itself, in order to prosecute and convict someone of a hate crime. Violent crimes are already punishable by law. “Hate crime” laws put the perpetrator’s thoughts and beliefs on trial. Hate crime laws are tantamount to federally prosecuting “thought crimes.” The Family Research Council believes that all crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that every violent crime has some form of hate behind it. All around the country, crimes are being prosecuted in the state justice systems. American justice is being done. There is simply no need for a federal hate crimes law ... A federal hate crime law is unnecessary and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

This claims is immediately followed by Perkins' assertion that "expanding the Federal hate crime law would not only be unnecessary, it would be ineffective."

Note the he is not calling for a repeal of the existing Federal hate crime law that currently covers things like race and religion, even though he asserts that such laws are fundamentally unconstitutional, but is instead opposing efforts to "expand" it to cover "sexual orientation."

And to explain why, Perkins then trots out all of the standard right-wing lies:

Family Research Council has a particular concern regarding such laws, however, when they include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" (a reference to cross-dressing and sex-change operations) among the categories of protection. This sends the false message that deviant sexual behaviors are somehow equivalent to other categories of protection such as race or sex. In fact, the very term "hate crime" is offensive in this context, in that it implies that mere disapproval of sexually extreme behavior constitutes a form of "hate"equivalent to racial bigotry.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not defined in the bill. As such, it is not clear from this lack of definition what the bill authors intend for sexual orientation and gender identity to mean or how these terms should be construed in law. Since these terms are not defined by the bill itself, it is possible that someone could claim protection for their “sexual orientation” based on participation in one of the 30 paraphilias listed in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which include pedophilia and bestiality.

Note again how Perkins' main concern is not with existing hate crimes protections but rather that expanding those protection to cover gays would make them "equivalent to other categories of protection." But what he and his allies are really concerned about is the fear that, if this legislation passes, their anti-gays views will be seen as "equivalent to racial bigotry."

And that, in essence, is really what the Right's opposition is all about.

Miranda Set To Issue More Demands

Just yesterday I wrote a post about the fact that Manuel Miranda seems to think that the time-line for a vote on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court should be determined primarily by ... well, Manuel Miranda.

Today, CQ reports that Miranda and his Third Branch Conference will be sending a letter to Senators tomorrow demanding that any debate and vote on the nomination be held off until after the August recess:

The Third Branch Conference will send a letter to senators Friday asking that debate on Sotomayor's nomination be postponed until September, said the group's leader, Manuel Miranda.

"It would be a failure of leadership to allow a confirmation vote before the August recess," Miranda said Thursday.

Asked about the idea Thursday, Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said, "I haven't given that any thought. Obviously they're trying to rush this through."

But Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who serves on the Judiciary Committee told reporters the confirmation schedule will not slip into September.

Miranda said the focus should be on trying to push back the floor vote rather than Sotomayor's confirmation hearing scheduled to begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 13.

"I'm afraid the postponed hearing will be the basis for a barter," Miranda said, in which Republicans would agree to a floor vote prior to the August recess.

Despite Miranda's claim that they would never engage in an "obstructive filibuster" of Sotomayor's nomination, you can already see them plotting to do just that by incessantly issuing demands that, are they not met, they can use to justify to filibuster or otherwise obstruct the confirmation process.

The Hill has more on this "not-a-filibuster" effort to filibuster Sotomayor's nomination:

A coalition of more than 100 conservative activists have called on Senate Republicans to delay a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor until the fall.

A group of conservatives have called on Senate Republicans to use every tactic at their disposal to hold up Sotomayor’s confirmation until September.

“The confirmation debate and the final vote should occur is September and Republicans should ensure that happens, to allow the American people to engage in this debate,” said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, which includes groups such as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America.

The Third Branch Conference polled its members in recent days and found unanimous desire among more than 100 conservative activists and leaders to press Senate Republicans for a delay.

“This issue is bigger than partisan politics; some of the statements Sotomayor has made should be of concern to everybody,” said Mario Diaz, policy director of legal issues for Concerned Women for America.

Members of the coalition will begin contacting and writing letters to Senate Republicans on Friday.

...

Miranda argued that Republicans could delay the nomination by refusing to participate in a vote to move Sotomayor to the Senate floor.

Rule IV of the Judiciary Committee states that at least one member of the minority party must vote to cut off debate in committee.

DeMint Grilled Sotomayor on Hate Crimes

During the Roberts and Alito confirmation battles, I seem to recall GOP senators claiming that when someone was nominated to a seat on the federal judiciary, especially to the Supreme Court, it was unacceptable for Senators to ask them about specific issues, legislation, or cases that might come before them once they are on the court.  Furthermore, if such questions were asked, it was incumbent upon the nominee to refrain from answering such questions, less they appear to be pre-judging potential cases.

Apparently, Sen. Jim DeMint doesn't care much for that tradition because, when he met with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor earlier this month, he tried to grill her about the pending hate crimes legislation and then got miffed when she refused to answer:

When meeting with President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, DeMint says she dodged his question about the bill.

"One of those questions I asked is if my children were assaulted, should the penalty for the person who did that be less than if a [sic] African-American or Hispanic or someone with a different worldview was assaulted? And she said, 'Of course not.' But then when I began to question her about hate crimes legislation and what it meant, she really avoided giving me any answer," he points out.

DeMint says the first time around, Sotomayor gave him what she thought was the right answer, but the second time she gave him a purely political response.

Aside from the impropriety of this question, DeMint's intentionally obtuse misrepresentation of the issue is especially galling since if his children were assaulted because of their race, the perpetrator would almost certainly be charged with a hate crime, the same as if an African-American or Hispanic were assaulted because of their race.

At first, I thought that DeMint was incessantly lying about hate crimes legislation because that was the only way he could justify his opposition, but now I am starting to think that he just has no idea what he is talking about.

JCN's State-Based Anti-Sotomayor Strategy

Last week we noticed that the Judicial Confirmation Network had unviled a state-level operation in Arkansas seeking to fight Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.

State-level organizations are obviously going to play a key part in the JCN's anti-Sotomayor campaign as, in the last few days, two new ones have popped up, including one in North Dakota:

With the recent nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, the North Dakota Judicial Confirmation Network is proud to announce their 2009 Steering Committee.

The group will be chaired by Rep. Rick Berg, and will include Rep. Kathy Hawken, Sen. Joe Miller, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Duane, Rep. Chuck Damschen, Bismarck Attorney Robert Harms, Rep. Blair Thoreson, and Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn. The group will continue to add steering committee members throughout the summer.

Reps Berg and Thoreson also served on the North Dakota Judicial Confirmation Network’s 2005 effort. In 2005, Senators Dorgan and Conrad both voted to confirm Justice John Roberts. Senator Conrad also voted to confirm Justice Alito.

“Our goal is to advocate for a responsible and thorough vetting process for Judge Sotomayor—and part of that means ensuring that this process is not rushed. After all, this is a lifetime appointment,” said Rep. Hawken.

The North Dakota Judicial Confirmation Network is affiliated with the national Judicial Confirmation Network—an organization of citizens joined together to support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States. JCN supports judges who interpret the Constitution, and opposes activist judges who legislate from the bench.

A similar group has also be set up in Colorado, and though this article doesn't explicitly mention its ties to the JCN, the fact that I found the article featured at the top of the JCN's website suggests that this is also part of its efforts:

A conservative coalition has formed in Colorado to oppose President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the New York judge is a judicial activist who puts her "personal political agenda" above the rule of law.

"Sonia Sotomayor's statement that a 'wise Latina woman' would generally make better decisions because of 'the richness of her experiences' than a white male reveals the extent to which political and personal agendas have supplanted the rule of law in selecting nominees," former State Treasurer Mark Hillman said in a press release announcing the coalition. "Rule of law requires that laws be written, accessible, understandable and uniformly applied."

Jim Pfaff, coordinator of the state anti-Sotomayor campaign, said it would lobby the Coloradans whose opinions of Sotomayor matter most: U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, who will vote on her confirmation. Bennet told the Associated Press Tuesday that he will support her. A spokeswoman for Udall said Tuesday that "he thinks she's impressive" but has not made up his mind.

Other organizers of the Colorado anti-Sotomayor effort include John Andrews, former president of the state Senate; Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a conservative Colorado think tank; and Jeff Crank, state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Obviously, the JCN considers the Senators in Arkansas, Colorado, and North Dakota to be key targets for their anti-Sotomayor efforts.

Dobson and Goeglein Recount Their Love For George W. Bush

So, who wants to listen to an hour and a half of James Dobson and former special assistant to President George W. Bush and current Focus on the Family Vice President Tim Goeglein count the ways in which they love President Bush and detail what a great president he was?

Nobody?

Well, I don't blame you, which is why I've edited it down to this nine minute audio clip in which Goeglein declares that "George W. Bush was the instrument in God's hand" that kept America safe; that Bush was just like George Washington; that Bush was the "most pro-life and pro-family president in the history of the United States" as demonstrated by his judicial nominations, including John Roberts and Samuel Alito; that his heart is breaking that all of Bush's work in this regard is being unraveled by President Obama; that it is not possible to be President of the United States and be pro-choice; that "there can be no compromise on the question of the defense of the innocent pre-born" and that their anti-choice efforts will be "vindicated ... by divine providence" when Roe v. Wade is finally overturned; that Bush is a "great thinker" who is "powered by integrity" which is rooted in his faith in Christ and that, in the years ahead, historians will look back and recognize Bush as the great president that he really was:

One section I didn't include was the ten minute explanation Goeglein gave about the circumstances under which he resigned from his position in the White House which, not surprisingly, he used to further demonstrate just what a loving, forgiving, and all-around remarkable human being George W. Bush truly is. 

If, down the line, you start hearing people claim that President Bush was never really committed to the  Religious Right agenda or that the Religious Right never really loved him, you can just play them this clip of Dobson and Goeglein's love note to George W. Bush, the greatest human being who ever lived.

UPDATE: The following transcript of the broadcast was prepared by The Colorado Independent:

James Dobson: There are undoubtedly some people listening to us today who are going to sneer at what you just said because George W. Bush was certainly one of the most hated presidents that we’ve had — certainly in recent memory.

He was maligned at every turn but I know you admire him greatly, don’t you?

Tim Goeglein: I do, indeed. In fact, I see George W. Bush as a great president. And I believe that George Walker Bush was right about the most important things that came across his presidency in those eight years, Dr. Dobson.

First, without peer, is that he saw the greatest external threat to our national security. And he saw it immediately. And he prosecuted the war in such a way that from 9/11 and the terror and terribleness of the day — and I was in the White House that day — until the last minute of the last hour of his presidency, George W. Bush kept us safe.

Providence kept us safe.

But George W. Bush was the instrument in God’s hand as the leader of the free world.

And every problem imaginable that comes across your desk when you’re the President of the United States. But history will be kind to George Bush because they will see that through a series of very important decisions his leadership, his personal character and integrity added up to the forbearance of another direct attack on the United States of America.

The primary role of the Commander in Chief is our national security. And, yes, I believe that part of the greatness of George W. Bush was not to see this as an intelligence problem primarily. To not see it as a police action.

Dobson: Yeah, yeah.

Goeglein: But to actually see it for what it was. Of course, this was the great blessing of our first president George Washington — the original George W. — who, you know, the thing that made him in Thomas Flexner’s landmark biography “The Indispensable Man,” the greatest trait of Washington was to see things as they were and not as he wanted to see them.

That was George W. Bush’s gift.

When he came to this war, he immediately — upon being told of the attacks — knew that this was war and that we were being attacked existentially by radical Islam.

But the one thing that we did not talk about, I think is the greatest achievement of the former president, beyond the security question, is the fact that George W. Bush is the most pro-life and pro-family president in the history of the United States.

Dobson: Now, I’ve said that on many, many occasions here at Focus on the Family and I want you to address it. George Bush is the most pro-life and pro-family president in history. Validate that statement for us.

Goeglein: I was getting ready to come to the broadcast and I literally jotted these down. These are quick snapshots of the Bush Administration on life.

• Signed and reinstituted the Mexico City Agreement
• Signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act
• Signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act
• Vetoed the partial birth abortion bill

And, very importantly, fought it in several appellate courts.

He had the most pro-life, anti-cloning provision, ever. He instituted the most important pro-life provision in his presidency which was a pro-human dignity, pro-life stem cell research policy.

He created the conscience clause laws provisions.

I may say, as well, that George W. Bush funded pro-marriage programs. Was the greatest funder of abstinence education in the history of the United States.

He gave Henry Hyde the Medal of Freedom, the most pro-life member of the United States Senate or House, ever.

And I think very importantly, Dr. Dobson, and this is something that I think that is at the pinnacle of pro-life, pro-family achievement in this administration, the Bush administration, he elevated John Roberts to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the United State of America. He appointed Samuel Alito to be an Associate Justice …

Dobson: A great justice too.

Goeglein: … two great justices. And, this is something people do not know, that George W. Bush nominated and confirmed over 35 percent of sitting federal judges.

Dobson: So his impact on the judiciary is going to continue for a long time.

Goeglein: It is huge. It is huge and it’s lasting.

Dobson: Does it break your heart what is about to happen to the judiciary?

Goeglein: It more than breaks my heart. To watch it unravel in a few short months by a new president is a heartbreaking, disappointing and difficult thing to watch. It is systematic and it is categorical. And we have gone in America from the most pro-life president in the history of our country to, unfortunately, the most pro-abortion president that we’ve ever had.

It is not possible to president of the United States of America, in the early part of the 21st century, and to know what we know morally and technologically and to find any reason other than a full-throated advocate for the pro-life position.

Dobson: Yeah, when President Obama spoke recently at Notre Dame about abortion he talked about our need to come together, to find areas of agreement. He said that we needed to work together. We needed to accommodate each other.

But you can’t compromise with evil. I mean, in what way are you going to compromise with the killing of babies?

Goeglein: There is no compromise. There can be no compromise on the question of the defense of the innocent pre-born.

All of the millions of people who have worked in both in the leadership and the vanguard of the pro-life movement, they will be vindicated. If by divine providence Roe v. Wade were to be overturned. And we were to start again in the United State on the question of life.

It is simply unacceptable that from 1973 until 15 seconds ago, that something like 45 million innocent pre-born lives have been snuffed out in defense of words like “choice.”

George W. Bush’s greatness as a human being, apart from the presidency, is that he has an inner moral compass that is self-confident. That is loyal. That is powered by integrity.

But Dr. Dobson it wells up from his faith in Christ. This is who the man is.

He is a great thinker. He is a person who prays and works to make the right decision. He has an inner confidence and peace in his soul that that was the right thing.

Dobson: And nothing is going to shake his confidence.

Goeglein: I think that is absolutely right. And that’s why I’m actually very confident and hopeful that in the years ahead — with the benefit of time and space — that historians will look back at those remarkable, incredibly eventful eight years, and say, you know, he made the right decisions about the biggest things during those eight years.

And, yes, maybe he will not be remembered, you know, of Churchillian, you know, eloquence. Maybe he will not be remembered for X, Y and Z. But when it comes to the questions of national security and war, when it comes to the questions of the right to life and when it comes to the questions of our constitutional Republic, national sovereignty and constitutional formulation of the Supreme Court — above all when it comes to the innocent pre-born people will say he got those big ones right.

Sotomayor Hearing Set, So Bring on the Oil

Now that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing has been set to begin on July 13, you know what comes next: Rob Schenck has to anoint the room with oil.

David Brody reports:

The Christian group "Faith and Action in the Nation's Capitol" has made its way to Capitol Hill and Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor might be interested in what they did. They blessed the doors of Senate Hart Building Room 216 with prayer and oil because they believe this will be the room most likely used for her confirmation hearing which begins July 13th.

Here is the video Faith and Action has posted of Schenck in action, along with an alert the organization is sending out to its members:

You probably heard the news that US Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy has set the start date for confirmation hearings surrounding Judge Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama's nominee to the United States Supreme Court. They will begin Monday, July 13, and probably last through that week. I waited for that announcement before making one of my own:

A firm foundation of prayer has been laid for this confirmation process. Wednesday morning, June 3, about 8:00, I went to the US Senate Hart Building across the street from our ministry center where the last two Supreme Court nomination hearings took place. Once there, I proceeded to Committee Room 216, the very same chamber where we have held numerous prayer and worship services over the years. This will most likely be the venue for the Senate hearing.

I went to the hearing room doors, and, following biblical and long-held Christian traditions, anointed them with oil as a symbol of consecration, or a setting apart for God's purpose. In respect for Judge Sotomayor's strong Catholic background, I used oil specially formulated for this purpose. It was also blessed by a Catholic priest at the St. Francis Monastery here in Washington, DC.

As I prayed, I touched the doors in three spots, making the sign of the cross. I prayed for God to superintend over the entire confirmation process and mark them with truth because Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," and He prayed to His Father, saying, "Thy Word is Truth." Of course, in the end, we always pray that God's will be done.

There is so much we can do as part of this enormously consequential exercise, including letting our senators know how we feel about this nomination. Nothing, though, is as important as prayer. I invite you to join me in praying as often as you can during the entire hearing process beginning Monday morning, July 13.

I will keep you informed.

Your missionary to Capitol Hill,

Rev. Rob Schenck
President
Faith and Action in the Nation's Capital

This is the first time Schenck has done this sort of thing alone, as he has traditionally been joined by Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition in the anointing ceremonies they carried out before the hearings for John Roberts and Samuel Alito and the inauguration of President Obama.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • It's no wonder that Bill O'Reilly hates Media Matters - after all, they keep catching him lying.
  • Steve Benen comments on the straight party-line vote on David Hamilton in the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying "there's no real reward for nominating moderates. If the president selects obvious centrists" so "Obama might as well pick the best available people for the federal bench, without regard for the GOP reaction, because it's likely to be the same, no matter who he chooses."
  • Crooks and Liars posts video of Manuel Miranda and Andrea Lafferty having some trouble explaining their call for a filibuster against Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Think Progress reports that Rep. Lamar Smith has launched the Media Fairness Caucus aiming “to fight liberal media bias.”
  • Jeremy wants to know why GOProud signed onto the anti-Sotomayor letter along with a bunch of the right-wing's most anti-gay zealots. I'd suggest its because GOPround isn't really interested in gay rights anyway.

Senate Republicans "Collude" With Right Wing Groups to Attack Sotomayor

Just yesterday, I wrote a post about how Manuel Miranda went form an obscure Senate aide to a right-wing judicial confirmation warrior after losing his job on the Hill due to the fact that he had been regularly obtaining internal Democratic documents and sharing them with right-wing groups:

From the fall of 2001 until January 2003, when Miranda left the Judiciary Committee to work for Senator Frist, he and Lundell downloaded several thousand internal Democratic documents and possibly shared them with other Republican staffers and the media. Miranda repeatedly requested files from Lundell even after he began working for Frist and thus no longer had access to the Judiciary Committee’s server. At one point Miranda even asked Lundell to “undertake a discreet mission” to gather documents and provide them to Sean Rushton, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, so that he could build up a relationship with the press. Lundell replied that he would be “happy to assist in this covert action” and subsequently e-mailed Rushton 169 documents. Lundell and others speculated that Miranda himself also turned over documents to Rushton and others but Miranda denies this and it is impossible to know the truth as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Committee for Justice and the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary all refused to cooperate with Mr. Pickle’s investigation. Despite this lack of cooperation, the Pickle Report does note that when the files showed up on the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary’s website, one of the documents contained a directory path that forensic review determined came from “an e-mail from a web page that was viewed and printed by Mr. Miranda with Internet Explorer.”

The irony, of course, is that Miranda defended his behavior by claiming that he was merely a “whistleblower” who was trying to expose the Senate Democrats' "collusion" with outside interest groups ... and chose to do so by obtaining and sending internal Democratic memos to right-wing interest groups. 

Which brings us to this article in The Hill today about how Senate Republicans are trying to appear moderate and fair-minded regarding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor while privately telling right-wing interest groups to dig up whatever they can on her and keep up their harsh attacks, though they are now trying to deny it:

In public, Senate Republicans have kept their distance from conservative attacks on Sonia Sotomayor — but behind the scenes, they have encouraged activists to keep their crosshairs trained on the Supreme Court nominee.

Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.

“Swann told us she wanted to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“The point was we should keep it up,” said the source. “She told us at this meeting to put our foot on the pedal.”

A second source who attended the meeting confirmed the account. Both sources requested anonymity because it was a private meeting.

Swann declined to respond to the characterization of her comments by other people present at the meeting because the discussion was supposed to remain private.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said Swann would not encourage the groups to attack the nominee.

"I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here. Those meetings are off the record, so Lanier won't respond on it, though I'm sure she wouldn't be calling for attacks," Stewart said.

Norquist, who spoke to The Hill late Wednesday at the request of McConnell's office, said that Swann was encouraging conservatives to keep up their fire on the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, not Sotomayor.

"It was all about how Gitmo is getting incredible traction and was separate from her coversation about how pleasant the Supreme Court nominee was when she visited [McConnell's] office," Norquist said.

But two sources who attended the meeting said that explanation was absurd and insisted there was no doubt that Swann was encouraging conservatives to continue their harsh criticisms of the nominee.

I wonder if Miranda was in attendance for this meeting - the article doesn't say.

Who knows - maybe he was one of the article's unnamed sources and just felt obligated to speak out about the meeting because, as he claims, its his duty to “expose corruption wherever [it is] discovered.”

"Homosexual Relationships Do Not Benefit American Society"

I will admit that I am somewhat surprised by the rather muted response from the Religious Right to the hearing held yesterday on the "Uniting American Families Act":

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Democrat from Vermont who is the powerful chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is adding another controversial ingredient to the volatile mix of an immigration debate that President Obama has said he hopes to spur in Congress before the end of the year.

Mr. Leahy has offered a bill that would allow American citizens and legal immigrants to seek residency in the United States for their same-sex partners, just as spouses now petition for foreign-born husbands and wives ... Senator Leahy said the bill would eliminate discrimination in immigration law against gay and lesbian couples.

Under family unification provisions in immigration law, American citizens and legal residents can petition for residency for their spouses. There is no numerical limit on permanent residence visas, known as green cards, for spouses of American citizens, and this is one of the main channels for legal immigration to the United States. Same-sex couples, though, cannot petition for partners, and many face the prospect of an immigrant partner’s deportation.

Senator Leahy’s bill would add the term “permanent partner” to sections of current immigration law that refer to married couples, and would provide a legal definition of those terms.

“I just think it’s a matter of fairness,” he said Tuesday in an interview, noting that a number of American allies, including Canada, France and Germany, recognize same-sex couples in immigration law.

Last year, when Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council was asked about this legislation, he made it clear why they opposed it:

We oppose this bill because it is, although it may be at the margins, part of an assault on the definition of family ... I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.

Sprigg eventually apologized for his remarks ... and maybe that has something to do with the Right's rather muted opposition this time around. 

But when I say "muted,"  I mean only by typical right-wing standards.  I fully expected this issue to become a full-blown right-wing "controversy" with each group trying to out-outrage one another and warn in increasingly charged language how its passage would lead to the downfall of the United States.

That has not happened ... yet. But that doesn't mean that right-wing groups aren't trotting out all the same old tired and offensive claims in opposing this legislation.

From a letter [PDF] sent to the US Senate by Focus on the Family:

This bill will create opportunities for abuse and fraud of United States immigration laws but more importantly, S. 424 is a fatal step toward the purposeful undermining of marriage, this country’s most pro-child institution.

...

Supporters of S. 424 seek to use Congress to gain legal recognition for a lifestyle in the name of “equality.” But the institution of marriage is not a legal vehicle for equality; it is a social institution with children at its heart. If passed, S. 424 will be much more than a minor tweak to federal law, it will be a large step toward the redefinition of vital family policy with inestimable consequences for our children.

We urge you to uphold the institution of marriage and reject the redefinition of “family” to grant special immigrant visas for same-sex couples.

From a letter [PDF] sent to the Judiciary Committee by the Family Research Council, whose opposition seems to be rooted in the belief that "homosexual relationships do not benefit American society," suggestions that gay partners would bring STDs into the country, and the absurd claim that this legislation would somehow discriminate against married couples:

Regardless of whatever personal benefits homosexual partners may believe that they derive from their relationship, they simply do not provide benefits to society that are at all comparable to the benefits provided by marriage between one man and one woman, and there is therefore no reason why society should privilege such relationships over ones which are merely close friendships without a sexual component.

Apart from family relationships, which do not exist in this circumstance, preference in American immigration law has historically been given to persons who have skills of particular value to the American economy or society. Again, engaging in homosexual relationships does not provide such value. On the contrary, homosexual conduct is associated with numerous problems which would burden society, most notable among them the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among homosexual men.

...

While S. 424 says that its purpose is “to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws,” it actually introduces whole new areas of discrimination into those laws. Because, as noted above, entering and exiting a “permanent partnership” is much easier than entering and exiting a legal marriage, the bill actually introduces discrimination against those who are legally married, because they face higher hurdles for entry into a relationship that can derive benefit from the law than “permanent partners” do.

In fact, the bill can also be said to introduce discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well—discrimination in favor of homosexuals, that is, because only homosexual couples (those “unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act”) are able to reap its benefits, thus placing both married heterosexuals and heterosexuals in their own “permanent partnership” at a disadvantage.

The History of Manuel Miranda

It seems that, after years of operating behind the scenes and under the radar, Manuel Miranda has returned to once again take a lead role in the judicial confirmation wars.

Just in the last few days, Miranda has burst back onto the scene, drafting a letter calling on Senate Republicans to filibuster Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, suggesting that Senator Mitch McConnell should resign if he can't wage a better fight to stop her and, just for good measure, saying that, unlike Blacks, Hispanics "think like everybody else," whatever that is supposed to mean.

As such, Miranda is now getting a lot of attention, especially regarding the history of how he was ousted from his position as a one-time aide to Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bill Frist only to re-emerge as a one-man judicial confirmation army. 

So now seems like a good time to dust off a report I wrote several years ago shortly after the results of the investigation by the Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate was released, which chronicled Miranda's role in accessing internal Democratic memos regarding the issue of judicial nominations while he was working for Senators Hatch and Frist.

It was this behavior that caused Miranda to lose his job, though he has steadfastly denied any wrong-doing, consistently insisting that he was, in fact, a beacon of morality and ethics as he worked to expose Democratic "collusion" with outside interest groups.

Though the Senate report, known as the "Pickle Report" after Sergeant at Arms William Pickle, suggested that Miranda could have faced various charges for his behavior, he was never charged with any crime

As I suspect that most people barely even remember the "Memogate" controversy from 2003-2004 and aren't going to wade through the Pickle Report's 40 pages to figure out what went on, I've decided to post the report [PDF] I wrote at the time and excerpt this section covering the Pickle Report's findings on Miranda's activities:

The Pickle Report

While right-wing pundits and activists were busy defending Miranda and disparaging the investigation before knowing all the facts, Sergeant-at-Arms Pickle plowed ahead. Over the course of three months, Pickle and his staff interviewed over 160 individuals and conducted detailed “forensics analysis of the Judiciary Committee servers, available backup tapes, and the desktops of relevant staff members.” In March, Pickle finally completed his investigation and presented his report to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thanks to this report, we now know how the documents were obtained and who was responsible. We also know that nearly everything right-wing pundits said about the theft of the documents and the subsequent investigation was totally wrong.

As the report explains, in the fall of 2001 a Judiciary Committee Nomination Unit clerk, Jason Lundell, had learned how to access documents contained on Democratic computers by watching the System Administrator do some work on his computer and then duplicating the Administrator’s key strokes once he was alone. By doing so, he was able to gain access to the entire network and read, modify or delete Democratic documents because the newly hired and inexperienced system administrator had failed to restrict access to appropriate users.

Initially, Lundell downloaded between 100-200 pages of Democratic documents having to do with the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering and turned them over to two of his supervisors. Almost immediately both supervisors concluded that possessing such documents was improper and destroyed them and ordered Lundell to do the same and delete any files on his computer.

A short time later, Miranda joined the Committee staff as a counsel for the Nominations Unit. Not long after Miranda came on board, Lundell showed Miranda how to access the Democratic files but explained that he had been ordered not to use them. According to the Pickle Report, Miranda told Lundell not to listen to his supervisors and that there was nothing wrong or illegal about accessing Democratic files. Thus Miranda not only became the recipient of the Democratic documents, but a key figure in obtaining them, guiding Lundell about what information to look for and where to look.

From the fall of 2001 until January 2003, when Miranda left the Judiciary Committee to work for Senator Frist, he and Lundell downloaded several thousand internal Democratic documents and possibly shared them with other Republican staffers and the media. Miranda repeatedly requested files from Lundell even after he began working for Frist and thus no longer had access to the Judiciary Committee’s server. At one point Miranda even asked Lundell to “undertake a discreet mission” to gather documents and provide them to Sean Rushton, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, so that he could build up a relationship with the press. Lundell replied that he would be “happy to assist in this covert action” and subsequently e-mailed Rushton 169 documents. Lundell and others speculated that Miranda himself also turned over documents to Rushton and others but Miranda denies this and it is impossible to know the truth as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Committee for Justice and the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary all refused to cooperate with Mr. Pickle’s investigation. Despite this lack of cooperation, the Pickle Report does note that when the files showed up on the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary’s website, one of the documents contained a directory path that forensic review determined came from “an e-mail from a web page that was viewed and printed by Mr. Miranda with Internet Explorer.”

As for Miranda’s allegations that Democratic staffers on the committee were made aware that their documents were vulnerable, this too is contradicted by the report. Common sense dictates, and the report notes, that “[t]he Democratic staff working on judicial nominations clearly did not know there was a vulnerability. If they had, presumably they would have protected their files.” But beyond this, the allegation that the Democrats had been made aware of the problem seems to have come solely from Miranda himself. Miranda claims to have heard from Lundell that another staffer named Ryan Davis had informed the system administrator of the vulnerability. But Lundell denied ever telling Miranda this and Davis claimed that he did not recall ever having such a conversation with the administrator.

Furthermore, during the investigation, Miranda claimed to have kept printed versions of the documents that he considered the most valuable in a folder, which he asserted he had lost during his move to Frist’s office. It was not until his final interview with investigators that Miranda got around to informing them that a friend had made a “backup disk” for him of relevant Democratic documents. But Miranda refused to provide the friend’s name to investigators out of a stated desire not to prolong the investigation. As the Pickle Report concluded, the existence of the backup disk coupled with the claim that he “lost” his file containing Democratic documents “leaves open the possibility” that Miranda still “has Democratic documents in his possession.”

The Pickle Report concluded by outlining the “criteria for possible referrals for disciplinary action and for criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice,” noting that Miranda and others could potentially face prosecution for ethical violations, professional misconduct, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, lying to investigators and violating various criminal statutes.

Of course, Miranda disputed many of the report's findings at the time and will no doubt continue to do so even today. 

Nonetheless, the report, written in 2004, covers not only Miranda's dealings while working on the Hill, but his ties to the various right-wing media outlets and judicial groups who sought to use the ill-gotten internal Democratic memos for partisan purposes, and explains just how Miranda went from being an obscure Senate aide to the right-wing folk hero and leading crusader in the judicial confirmation wars we know today.

IVA's Bryan Fischer Gets AFA Promotion

Last year, when Hallmark announced that it would begin selling same-sex wedding cards, the Religious Right predictably threw a fit, with the American Family Association quickly announcing that it was launching one of its patented boycotts.

Among the groups that joined the effort was an AFA affiliate in Idaho known as the Idaho Values Alliance, headed by Bryan Fischer.  His efforts must have impressed the head-honchos at AFA because yesterday Fischer announced that he'd be leaving his position with IVA to join the host a radio program for AFA:

Don Wildmon has invited me to join his AFA staff and host a live, two-hour talk show on AFA’s radio and TV networks, and I have accepted his gracious offer.

This will necessitate a move to Tupelo, Mississippi, where AFA headquarters are located. I will need to be in Tupelo by July 1, with the first show scheduled to go on-air on July 6.

Sadly, this means that June will be a month of transition for me and for the IVA, as I shift my focus to my new role with AFA. I will no longer be able to produce the Daily Updates, which have been a feature of the IVA since its inception. I will communicate occasionally with all of you in the IVA network over this next month and, of course, give you information about the talk show as things develop.

It was just last month when there was lots of discussion taking place over whether the Religious Right would oppose a gay or lesbian Supreme Court nominee because of his or her sexuality that Fischer declared that they would because, by definition, a gay judge could not be fair:

An open lesbian has obviously resolved the ethical questions about sexuality in favor of the legitimacy of aberrant sexual behavior, in favor of what historically has been known in U.S. law as an "infamous crime against nature."

It's one thing for a judge to keep his orientation a private matter. There is some evidence that perhaps two Supreme Court justices of the past were homosexuals themselves. But they concealed that from the public, accepted that the laws of the day considered homosexual sexual activity a felony offense, and did not use their platform on the bench to challenge society's sexual standards.

But a judge who is quite open about his (generic use) alternative sexuality is another matter entirely. It's hard to imagine any universe in which an open lesbian would uphold any pro-family law should it be challenged in her court.

It will be absolutely incumbent upon the GOP members of the Senate judiciary committee to ask probing questions of a lesbian nominee on a host of issues that are matters of legal and constitutional dispute.

AFA apparently thought that that was just the sort of astute and fair-minded analysis that its programming was lacking and has decided to bring Fischer on board to fill that need.

Is The Right Suffering Collective Amnesia?

You really have to hand it to the Right: when it comes to hypocrisy, they seemingly know no limit.

Take this newest "Washington Update" from the Family Research Council demanding to know whether Sonia Sotomayor gave some sort of assurance to the White House about her views regarding reproductive choice:

In a 2007 debate, Obama said he "would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right of privacy." After bobbing and weaving over the past few days, the White House now apparently believes it must make public its confidence that Sotomayor views abortion on demand as settled law. But that is exactly what Roe is not. The sweeping decision unsettled the nation's conscience in 1973 and caused a firestorm that continues to this very day.

It's imperative now that Judge Sotomayor address how the White House obtained its assurance about her views ... Does Sotomayor pick and choose what she regards as settled, and how and to whom did she give assurances?

If they are trying to gin up some sort of outrage, maybe first they could explain why, back in 2005, even before George Bush had nominated Harriet Miers, Karl Rove and others from the White House were explicitly reaching out to people like James Dobson to assure him that Miers opposed abortion:

Dobson also said he learned that President Bush was looking only for a woman to appoint to the position, which eliminated many of the top names that Washington observers had bandied about in the days leading up to Miers' nomination.

"But I was not gonna be the one to reveal this. I knew that people would eventually be aware of some of that information, but I didn't think I had the right to say it. And so, I made my comment," Dobson said.

"What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn't reveal," Dobson explained. "Well, it's what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life."

"In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision," Dobson concluded.

It didn't work, ultimately, because the Right eventually forced Miers to withdraw based largely on its concerns about this very issue.

This sort of amnesia seems widespread, judging by this Bobby Eberle piece lamenting the fact that Republicans didn't put up a big enough fight to get Miguel Estrada confirmed:

If Judge Sotomayor is confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, and Obama, the media, and the left-wing establishment are making sure everyone knows it ... All of this talk sends a sad reminder to me of how things could have been had Republicans stood up and fought for Miguel Estrada, one of President Bush's first judicial nominees. Estrada would have been the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The nomination was seen as a potential stepping stone for Estrada (not Sotomayor) to be the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While it is quite possible that Estrada may have eventually ended up on the Supreme Court, this sort of finger-pointing and teeth-gnashing willingly ignores the fact that Bush wanted to name the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court by nominating Alberto Gonzales, but the Right would have none of it and essentially pre-emptively killed his nomination, as we chronicled in this report back in 2005:

Newsweek correctly states that “Gonzales is the only A-list contender who religious conservatives pledge, upfront, to fight.” The article quotes Tom Minnery of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family saying outright about a potential Gonzales nomination: “We'd oppose him.”

In the same article, Manuel Miranda, head of the recently formed coalition of extreme conservative groups called the “Third Branch Conference” and a former Frist staffer fired for unethically reading internal Democratic judiciary staff communications, warned that a Gonzales nomination could doom the Republican Party in upcoming elections: “If the president is foolish enough to nominate Al Gonzales, what he will find is a divided base that will take it out on candidates in 2006.” Miranda went on to threaten retribution against Florida Governor Jeb Bush, if he decides to run for president. “We're not Republican patsies,” he said. “Jeb Bush can go sell insurance.”

The New York Times reported similar opposition to Gonzales: “Late last week, a delegation of conservative lawyers led by C. Boyden Gray and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III met with the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to warn that appointing Mr. Gonzales would splinter conservative support.”

Elsewhere in the article, the Times reported that Paul Weyrich was warning “administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales would fracture the president's conservative backers.” Weyrich also claimed to have held a conversation with Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman to “let the administration know through whatever channels we have that Gonzales would be an unwise appointment because of the opposition of some of the groups.”

In the same article, Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime radical and extreme right leader, said “Bush was very clear, and certainly his constituents believed him, when he said he would appoint justices like Scalia and Thomas. We are not in favor of Gonzales.” One of the reasons for the intensity of the opposition to Gonzales is that the Right feels that they were betrayed by President Reagan with his nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor who was, according to Schlafly, “a terrible disappointment.”

The National Review made its opposition to a Gonzales nomination clear in an editorial entitled “No to Justice Gonzales”: “[The] president has to know that conservatives, his supporters in good times and bad, would be appalled and demoralized by a Gonzales appointment. It would place his would-be successors in the Senate in a difficult position, forcing them to choose between angering conservatives by voting for Gonzales and saying no to him. If Democrats attack Gonzales... conservatives will not rally to his defense.”

Robert Novak wrote a similar piece called “No, not Gonzales!”: “Gonzales long has been unacceptable to anti-abortion activists because of his record as a Texas Supreme Court justice. Beyond pro-lifers, he is opposed by organized conservative lawyers. Ironically, the same Bush supporters who have been raising money and devising tactics for the mother of all judicial confirmation fights are in a panic that Gonzales will be named. With the president's popularity falling among his conservative base as well as the general populace, a politically disastrous moment may be at hand.”

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council also voiced his opposition to a Gonzales nomination during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country”: “I think what you would hear would be [what] sounds like slashing the tires of the conservative movement, because this has been a moment in time that has been anticipated for over a decade. And if there is someone who . . . appears along the same lines of an O’Connor, an unknown or someone who has a judicial philosophy that is less than a Scalia or Thomas, it`s a problem. There is no question about it.”

Sotomayor: Right Wing News

Over the last few days, we posted two new Right Wing Watch In Focus pieces analyzing the Right's response to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

A Justice For All: Themes from the Right -- Nomination Day

Right-wing political and legal groups and pundits responded to President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court by cranking up their well-funded attack machine, following their pre-fab attack script (they have been attacking her for months as a potential nominee), launching ads against her confirmation, and threatening to use the nomination as a political bludgeon against Democrats from more conservative states.

A Justice For All: Themes from the Right -- Day 2

The second day of right-wing attacks on Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor continued many of the themes of the first day’s attacks, mostly distortions of her judicial record and public remarks and distortions of President Obama’s desire for judges who exhibit empathy. National Review published a wave of anti-Sotomayor commentary on its website. (Some of this information may have been distributed on Day 1 but didn’t make our initial analysis.)

We are also going to start regularly posting some of the raw material we use in these RWWIF analysis pieces on the blog, as well.  Here is the news from yesterday:

Committee for Justice

Using Sotomayor to Define Obama

The Democrats have the numbers to make a Sotomayor confirmation all but inevitable, but Ed Morrissey picks up on another opportunity that her nomination affords the GOP.

“They have an opportunity to use the hearings to show Sotomayor as a routine appellate jurist with a spotty record who got elevated to this position as an act of political hackery by a President who couldn’t care less about his responsibilities to find the best and brightest for the job.”

Like many of Obama’s other appointments, it demonstrates a lack of executive talent and intellectual curiosity on his part. This appointment makes an argument for more Republicans in the Senate after the midterms, if for no other reason than to force Obama to start putting a little effort in making his nominations."

Bloomberg - Sotomayor Took Cautious Approach in Cases on Race, Gun Rights

Her detractors say Sotomayor, 54, was trying to divert attention from the cases, hoping to prevent Supreme Court review and possibly enhance her resume for a promotion.

“It makes me wonder whether she’s just cautions by nature or whether she was already thinking about being appointed to a higher court,” said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice in Washington and a critic of the Sotomayor nomination. He said Sotomayor might have been “covering her tracks” by limiting the scope and prominence of the opinions.

The Washington Post - Battle over Obama’s nominee begins

Curt Levey, executive director of the conservative legal group Committee for Justice, said her judicial record would probably not be enough to stop Sotomayor's confirmation, given the Democratic dominance in the Senate, but her speeches are another matter.

"The best predictor of whether a controversial nominee can be stopped is whether the case against her is based on more than just her legal analysis," he said.

Although Levey acknowledged that his description of Sotomayor as a "wild-eyed judicial activist" would be hard to extract from her record on the bench, he said "her words are the best indication" of how she would see her role as a justice.

The New York Times - Obama Hails Judge as ‘Inspiring’

Other conservatives said they would focus on her ruling in a New Haven affirmative action case or on how she might rule on same-sex marriage.

“Abortion is in some sense a stale issue that has been fought over many times, but gay marriage is very much up for grabs,” said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a legal group. “Gay marriage will be bigger than abortion.”

Judicial Confirmation Network

Wendy Long Calls on Obama Administration to Provide Transparency via YouTube

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' comments yesterday that "We can all move past YouTube snippets and half sentences and actually look at the honest-to-God record" raise an important question for Mr. Gibbs. The Duke University comments by Judge Sotomayor are quite clear and unequivocal. Is Mr. Gibbs suggesting that Judge Sotomayor was lying in the tape or that she really didn't mean it?

President Obama promised the American people a transparent presidency. In that spirit, we are calling on White House Press Secretary Gibbs to post the Duke University video on The White House web site and let the American people judge her comments.

JCN has also launched a website campaigning against Sotomayor, it can be found here.

The Durango Herald - Sonia Sotomayor, Nominee has intriguing history, solid qualifications

Recognizing that personal history is at least a factor - if not a significant one - in judicial decision-making is an important step, and one that Sotomayor has taken.

She has already been criticized for it. Wendy Long, a spokeswoman for the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said Sotomayor's background will trump fairness. "Judge Sotomayor will allow her feelings and personal politics to stand in the way of basic fairness," Long said.

Coalition for a Fair Judiciary

Human Events.com - Republicans Withhold Full Judgment on Sotomayor

Conservative grassroots groups began to weigh in on the Sotomayor nomination immediately yesterday, among them the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, a group of over 350 organizations working together during the confirmation process in support of most of President George W. Bush’s nominees, Harriet Myers being the exception.

“Although Justice dons a blindfold when weighing the scales of justice, Sotomayor admits that she lifts that blindfold so as to peek at her own complexion and the skin color of the parties before her,” said Kay Daly, President of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary.

“That might explain why she held it was constitutional for white firefighters to be denied promotion based on their skin color. Sotomayor's own words should be her nomination's undoing.”

Gary Bauer

OneNewsNow - Sotomayor-discriminatory and unqualified?

Gary Bauer is chairman of American Values. He says while the American people should celebrate Sotomayor's story of overcoming poverty after growing up in New York City's South Bronx, it is not a reason to select her as a justice for the nation's highest court.

"Unfortunately, when you do look at the reasons for putting somebody on the Supreme Court, their judicial philosophy -- whether they respect the rule of law, whether they'll be impartial or not -- she fails on those criteria, so I'm disturbed by the selection," he notes.

“She is somebody who believes in reverse discrimination,” he contends. “We have evidence that she thinks it's okay to discriminate against white Americans because she's inclined toward believing in quotas.”

Pat Robertson

Newsmax - Pat Robertson: Sotomayor Nomination an ‘Outrage’

Robertson cited Sotomayor’s views on judicial activism as he criticized her nomination during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday.

“I think Obama has reached out to one of the most left-wing judges that there is in the United States,” Robertson said. “I think it's an outrage.”

Richard Land

Christian Post - Justice Sotomayor? – More for Some, Less for Others?

“Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason: she’s supposed to be impartial, not empathic. Empathy belongs in the legislature and the executive branch, and not in the judicial branch. Sotomayor is a living, breathing example of making the law subjective and relative, rather than objective and impartial.”

Family Research Council

Hill Blog Question of the Day: Will Sotomayor face serious opposition?

I hear all over the place that Ms. Sotomayor has a “compelling story” that makes her more in tune with her feelings. With all due respect to the popular daytime television queen, a judge needs to be more like John Roberts and not Oprah Winfrey.

That is why this process can not be rushed and why the role of the Senate Judiciary Committee is so important in properly vetting any nominee to ensure that the nominee has the requisite competence, temperament, character, knowledge of the law, and experience to make a good jurist.

LA Times - GOP looks for alternate route to block Sotomayor’s path

Conservative critics are already spotlighting a ruling by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, including Sotomayor, that found that the 2nd Amendment's protection of citizens' gun rights did not apply to state or local regulations.

"These senators will jeopardize their seats if they vote to support an anti-gun radical for the Supreme Court," said Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow with the conservative Family Research Council.

USA Today - Supreme Court pick Sotomayor faces nomination politics

For now, though, it shows Obama has united liberals behind his pick and left conservatives scouring her record for ammunition.

"How aggressive the effort is depends on whether more comes to light," said Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council. "This is still kind of in the discovery process."

Many of Sotomayor's potential opponents, ranging from groups opposing abortion rights to those backing gun rights, have not committed to an aggressive campaign against her.

Right Wing Reaction to Sotomayor

So, anything happen while I was on vacation? 

Oh yeah, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.  And guess what?  The Right already doesn't like her:

Family Research Council:

"President Obama has chosen a nominee with a compelling personal story over judicial pick with a solid constitutional judicial philosophy. A compelling personal story is no substitute for allegiance to the Constitution and its sound application to public life.

"Judge Sotomayor's failure to premise her decisions on the text of the Constitution has resulted in an extremely high rate of reversal before the high court to which she has been nominated.

"With that fact in mind Judge Sotomayor appears to subscribe to a very liberal judicial philosophy that considers it appropriate for judges to impose their personal views from the bench. President Obama promised us a jurist committed to the 'rule of law,' but, instead, he appears to have nominated a legislator to the Supreme Court.

Focus on the Family:

"From what we know about her, Judge Sotomayor considers policy-making to be among a judge’s roles, no matter what the law says," said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst at Focus on the Family Action. "She disregards the notion of judicial impartiality."

...

Hausknecht said: "The president's professed desire for judges with 'empathy' rather than impartiality might deny the country what the Founding Fathers intended and wrote into the Constitution — judges who dispense justice without regard for the status of any party that comes before them."

Traditional Values Coalition:

To no one’s surprise, President Obama has nominated an individual who supports his position of deciding cases based on who you are, rather than on the facts and the law. Although Sotomayor spoke strongly of the importance of the rule of law and principles of the Founding Fathers, her previous decisions contradict this, as do the previous statements and promises of President Obama.

...

Judge Sotomayor fits the “empathy” qualification. During a law conference, she has openly bragged that she views her role as a judge as a policymaker and activist who will impose her leftist political views on the rest of us. She may have empathy for the poor, gays and minorities – but she is likely to ignore the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. She is clearly the ideal nominee for President Obama but will be a disaster for our legal system.

Concerned Women for America:

CWA President Wendy Wright said, "A necessary quality for a Supreme Court justice is to be committed to equal treatment of the law, regardless of ethnicity or sex. Sonia Sotomayor has an extensive record and several troubling opinions where she seems willing to expand certain 'rights' beyond what the Constitution establishes and the appropriate Supreme Court precedent. Revealing her immodest bias, she stated that a 'Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.' Congress needs to thoroughly vet Judge Sotomayor and Americans deserve enough time to evaluate her record and her announced bias for certain people. Her high reversal rate alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record. Frankly, it is the Senate's duty to do so."

Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA's Policy Director for Legal Issues, said, "Much has been made in the media about a Hispanic woman being nominated, but the truth is that none of that should matter as the Senate fulfills its 'advise and consent' role. What matters are the judge's judicial temperament and her view of the Constitution. We must determine if Judge Sotomayor will respect the Constitution as written or legislate from the bench. She has made some disconcerting statements that should require everyone to examine her record with an open mind and reach some conclusions. For example, she said once that 'policy was made at the appellate level,' a very dangerous way of looking at the role of a judge for those of us who value our freedoms as guaranteed in the Constitution."

Judicial Confirmation Network:

"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.

"She reads racial preferences and quotas into the Constitution, even to the point of dishonoring those who preserve our public safety. On September 11, America saw firsthand the vital role of America's firefighters in protecting our citizens. They put their lives on the line for her and the other citizens of New York and the nation. But Judge Sotomayor would sacrifice their claims to fair treatment in employment promotions to racial preferences and quotas. The Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision.

"She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court."

Committee for Justice:

Having told colleagues that I thought President Obama was too smart to pick someone with as much baggage as Sonia Sotomayor, I was surprised to learn of her nomination. Many other people were surprised as well, given both the widespread expectation that Obama would choose an intellectual heavyweight and Obama’s own recent statement that he would not make gender or race the major factors in his selection. Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley summed it up well on MSNBC yesterday, expressing bewilderment that Obama chose Sotomayor when heavyweights like “[Seventh Circuit Judge] Diane Wood would have met all his criteria.”

The only plausible explanation for Sotomayor’s selection is that the President was boxed in by demands from Hispanic and women’s groups that he pick one of their own. What else could explain his choice of a nominee who presents such a big target for conservatives and so clearly forces red state Democratic senators to choose between the values of their constituents and those of the nominee?

Priests for Life:

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, says he has just one question about Judge Sonia Sotomayor as she is nominated by President Obama for the Supreme Court: "Does justice include the right to tear the arms and legs off of babies, crush their skulls, and treat them as medical waste?"

"We all draw the line somewhere. An avowed racist or anti-Semite is not acceptable on the Supreme Court. Why should we give a pass to the violence of abortion?"

Operation Rescue:

"Just as Obama has attempted to abuse the process of law in reshaping America to the far left, so too Sonia Sotomayor believes in the abuse of judicial authority having stated that courts can create social policy," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "This philosophy dangerously overreaches the duties of the judicial branch and flies in the face of the separation of powers doctrine."

"Sonia Sotomayor is a far left ideologue that blurs the lines between the legislature and judiciary and will surely be a rubber stamp for Obama's radical abortion agenda, which is opposed by the majority of Americans."

Organized for Life:

Peter Shinn, National Director of Organized for Life, commented that, "Sonia Sotomayor is out of step with the American people. Quoted in 2005 as believing that policy comes from the bench, she stands counter to the American people's desire to end the tragedy of abortion."

Ruben Obregon, President of Organized for Life, added, "In nominating Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama chose to further his own pro-abortion agenda rather than seek common ground on the abortion issue. Instead of faithfully representing America's views, President Obama has added another reliably liberal member to the Court who will continue to impose the Court's will on the people. Pro-life activists, the Davids in this epic battle for life, can only stop the Goliath of the White House by banding together and signing the petition at www.stopsotomayor.com."

Vision America:

Scarborough warned: "At age 54, Sotomayor could be a member of the United States Supreme Court for the next 20 years -- or longer. As a dedicated liberal, we know her views on abortion, gay marriage and reverse-discrimination -- whether or not she's ruled directly on these issues."

"That much power simply can't be bestowed by a compliant Senate," Scarborough observed. "This nomination must be stopped dead in its tracks. Sonia Sotomayor isn't a 'centrist,' she's a disaster at every level."

Susan B. Anthony List:

"Women are best protected by the rule of law -- and blind justice. Their rights are most endangered when personal preference, ideology or painful personal history inform judgment. Susan B. Anthony and her early feminist compatriots fought for a human rights standard sustained only through blind justice. When evidence of personal preference appears in any Supreme Court nominee's judgment, it should give all women pause. Given what we know about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's own judicial philosophy -- including her support of policymaking from the bench -- Americans should be concerned about the role of personal preference in her overall judicial philosophy.

When it comes to protecting all human life, one group is never served by undermining the rights of another. Women will never be served by ignoring the rights of unborn children. Judge Sonia Sotomayor's record of support for judicial activism offers little comfort that she will be a friend to the unborn on the Supreme Court. As the Senate fulfills its Constitutional role to 'advise and consent,' Senators should ask the hard questions to thoroughly assess Sotomayor's judicial temperament, and reaffirm the authentic feminist standard of blind justice for all."

Randall Terry:

"The filibuster trail was blazed by President Obama, VP Biden, Majority Leader Reed, Sec State Clinton, and other Democrat leaders in 2005 with Justice Alito. Do GOP leaders have the courage and integrity to filibuster an activist, pro-Roe judge?

"The Democrats have two weak links in their chain; Senators Nelson (NE) and Casey (PA) who both declare they are 'pro-life.' The question of conscience and courage is on the table: will they choose babies' lives or party loyalty?"

Ken Blackwell:

The White House is telling us all about Judge Sotomayor’s compelling personal story — and it is an amazing story of what is possible “only in America.” But compelling personal stories are not the question. Miguel Estrada, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the D.C. Circuit appeals court and was planning on nominating to the Supreme Court, had a compelling story as a Hispanic immigrant who legally came to this country not even speaking English. Democrats filibustered Mr. Estrada.

Supporters point out that Judge Sotomayor was first appointed by George H.W. Bush for the federal trial court — before Bill Clinton elevated her to the Second Circuit appeals court. That’s true, but George H.W. Bush also gave us Justice David Souter, so clearly he wasn’t too careful about putting liberals on the federal bench. We can’t allow the left to hide behind the Bushes.

But when it comes to gun rights, we don’t need to guess. Judge Sotomayor has put in writing what she thinks. President Obama has nominated a radically anti-Second Amendment judge to be our newest Supreme Court justice.

There are a number of pro-Second Amendment Democratic senators from deeply red states, including Mark Begich from Alaska, Jon Tester and Max Baucus from Montana, Ben Nelson from Nebraska, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad from North Dakota, and Tim Johnson from South Dakota.

These senators will jeopardize their seats if they vote to support an anti-gun radical for the Supreme Court. Second Amendment supporters will now be up in arms over this radical anti-Second Amendment nominee, and you should never underestimate the political power of American gun owners.

Mike Huckabee (after first mistakenly calling her "Maria Sotomayor"):

The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bi-partisan way were mere rhetoric. Sotomayor comes from the far left and will likely leave us with something akin to the "Extreme Court" that could mark a major shift. The notion that appellate court decisions are to be interpreted by the "feelings" of the judge is a direct affront of the basic premise of our judicial system that is supposed to apply the law without personal emotion. If she is confirmed, then we need to take the blindfold off Lady Justice.

Richard Viguerie actually issued three different releases, including this one:

"The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor unites all wings of the conservative movement--economic, foreign policy, social, traditional, neocon, and libertarian--in a way we haven't seen since the early Clinton years.

"Judge Sotomayor frightens all conservatives. As the debate over her nomination heats up, conservatives will provide the primary opposition to Sotomayor and will quickly launch a massive educational campaign using direct mail, the Internet, talk radio, cable TV, You Tube, and other forms of new and alternative media.

"It was sad to read that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's comment on the Sotomayor nomination reflected the typical reaction Americans have come to expect from Republican politicians when he said that Republicans will reserve judgment on Sotomayor.

"No wonder conservatives now look to talk show hosts and other unelected conservatives for leadership, rather then wet-finger Republican politicians who always seeming to be waiting to see the direction of the political winds.

"It remains to be seen how active and effective Republican politicians will be on this historic fight, but conservatives are on the field, engaged, and ready to battle President Obama and all U.S. Senators who support Sotomayor."

This collection is actually just a fraction of the statements made in opposition to Sotomayor by right-wing groups, but it's more than enough to drive home the point that they appear intent on doing everything they can to oppose her nomination.

Just The Sort of Conservatives The Right Had In Mind

For the last several weeks, Jeremy at Good As You has been keeping a running list of the right-wing groups and figures who have equated homosexuality with pedophilia in opposing marriage equality or hate crimes legislation.

To that list, he can now add William Smith. Who's William Smith, you ask. We'll let David Ingram at the Legal Times blog explain it:

The new chief Republican counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a blog post last month in which he linked same-sex marriage to pedophilia, according to a Web site that has since been taken down.

William Smith’s post responded to a recent speech by Steve Schmidt, a Republican campaign consultant who advised Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Speaking in Washington to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, Schmidt had urged Republicans to support same-sex marriage.

“I wonder if next week Schmidt will take his close minded stump speech to a NAMBLA meeting. For those unfamiliar with NAMBLA, the acronym is for North American Man Boy Love Association,” Smith responded on wsmith.org in a post dated April 20.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced Smith as chief counsel May 13, after Sessions replaced Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions named three other lawyers to top positions as part of a sweep of Specter’s former committee staff.

Smith’s Web site is no longer visible, though Google has kept a “cached,” or archived, version of the site. It was visible earlier this month. The mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number on the Web site’s domain name registration match the address and phone number on Smith’s Alabama bar registration.

...

Smith’s post continued:

Schmidt would quickly tell you that he is not advocating that we support 60 year old men in their desire to rape 8 year old boys, but he would not classify his opposition as narrow minded. No! This is a principled position; there is some logic behind it, Schmidt would say.

Is Schmidt then going to take his close minded stump speech to the Bestiality Club? Again, his answer would be no, although there are a group of people who embrace this lifestyle.

Schmidt and other gay lifestyle proponents would say that my opposition is based on the slippery slope approach. I say that it is based on principle and that it is no more close minded than their position for gay unions. The difference between me and Schmidt is that I’m not a maverick. I’m guided by something called Christian principles. And I don’t need people in California, New York and Washington to tell me what the principles should be.

Not long ago, we noted that Religious Right groups were overjoyed that Sessions had been chosen to serve as ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee because, as Jay Sekulow put it, "he will bring in some conservative staff."

Presumably, Smith was just the sort of conservative they had in mind.

The Time Has Come to Panic

I've written several posts recently debunking the claim that the James Dobson and, by extension, the Religious Right are about to throw in the towel. While the Republicans are out of power at the moment and the Religious Right is growing fearful that it is being marginalized as the GOP seeks to regain its footing, that didn't mean they had any intention of giving up the fight.  As Dobson put it recently, "we're not going anywhere."

And they aren't, but it looks like the Right's irrelevance at the moment is starting to absolutely terrify its leadership. That's because, as Dan Gilgoff reports, Dobson is admitting that they have no power at the moment and cannot prevent the "utter evil," by which he meant things like hate crimes legislation, coming from Congress from getting passed and he literally cannot understand what is happening to this nation:

I've been on the air for 32 years and I've never seen a time quite like this. It just illustrates what happens when we don't have what the Founding Fathers referred to as checks and balances, where the excesses of one party or one branch of government limit the reach of power hungry and self-serving people and keeps them form doing things that are harmful to the country. That's the way the system was designed. We have 2 major political parties in this country, not one. And bipartisanship is a media creation that's designed to promote one point of view instead of the debate that should occur. And that's why media doesn't talk about bipartisanship when conservatives are in power...[today] the radical left controls the executive branch through the president, and the Congress... and the Judiciary through the courts... now they control it all, including every department of government. As a result, the legislation that should shock the nation, if people were paying attention, is being rushed into law.

...

I want to tell you up front that we're not going to ask you to do anything, to make a phone call or to write a letter or anything.

There is nothing you can do at this time about what is taking place because there is simply no limit to what the left can do at this time. Anything they want, they get and so we can't stop them.

We tried with [Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius and sent thousands of phone calls and emails to the Senate and they didn't pay any attention to it because they don't have to. And so what you can do is pray, pray for this great nation... As I see it, there is no other answer. There's no other answer, short term.

Of course, this isn't to say that Focus on the Family isn't trying to prevent passage of hate crimes legislation, because they are

In fact, Dobson dedicated most of his program to this legislation as he was joined by Tom Minnery, Gary Bauer, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Rep. Steve King, who then proceeded to spread just about every right-wing lie about this legislation. Listening to the program, the sense of panic among the group was palpable:

Dobson: I love my country. And I love the institution of the family. And I love the church. And I love the clergy. And almost every good thing is under attack today.

Gohmert: And I'm told sometimes, when I get passionate and upset about this, that I don't sound as sane as I would like to.

Dobson: Are you kidding? What you're doing is desperately needed and there are very few people who are willing to say it like it is.

Bauer: We need about 250 members of Congress as insane as you.

Gohmert: But, you know, this is the way we lose nations. It's like Colson said several years ago: "you cannot have the morality of Woodstock and not expect a Columbine."  Or not expect a Madoff. You can't have those morals and not get where we are today and so we've got a tough fight ahead of us, but I know in my heart, in my soul, that we can have another 200 years, but there is only one way - and that's if we have another awakening.  If we don't, I'm not sure what's left.

Dobson says he's "never seen a time quite like this" and I have to agree because I have never seen the Religious Right as utterly terrified as it is at the moment.

Update: Media Matters has posted this clip of Dobson once again claiming the legislation would protect necrophilia, pedophilia, and incest:

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Judiciary Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 5:49pm
The Montana State House is currently considering legislation that would prevent the city of Missoula from implementing an anti-discrimination ordinance that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The legislation, proposed by Republican State Rep. Kristin Hansen, would prohibit local governments from going farther than state law in enacting protected classes, was passed out of committee after they rejected an effort to expand the state law. Since Montana does not have a statewide protection for sexual orientation or gender identity, Missoula’... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 02/17/2011, 2:30pm
While the South Dakota state legislature announced today that it will shelve a radical bill that would open the door to legalizing the murder of doctors who perform abortions, the state is still weighing other legislation that would significantly curtail reproductive rights. NARAL Pro-Choice America says that South Dakota already has some of the most draconian laws on the books that constrain women’s access to reproductive health services, including biased counseling and 24 hour waiting periods, even though the state’s only clinic which offers abortion coverage has to fly in a... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 02/17/2011, 2:30pm
While the South Dakota state legislature announced today that it will shelve a radical bill that would open the door to legalizing the murder of doctors who perform abortions, the state is still weighing other legislation that would significantly curtail reproductive rights. NARAL Pro-Choice America says that South Dakota already has some of the most draconian laws on the books that constrain women’s access to reproductive health services, including biased counseling and 24 hour waiting periods, even though the state’s only clinic which offers abortion coverage has to fly in a... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:29am
Michele Bachmann New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14). CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11). Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10). Haley Barbour Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14). Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14). Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:29am
Michele Bachmann New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14). CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11). Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10). Haley Barbour Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14). Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14). Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Friday 02/11/2011, 3:35pm
A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.” Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Friday 02/11/2011, 3:35pm
A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.” Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit... MORE