SCOTUS

Way To Go, Focus: You've Made LaBarbera Proud

Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center placed Peter LaBarbera's Americans for Truth About Homosexuality on its list of anti-gay hate sites.

Yesterday, Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery personally assured AFT's LaBarbera that Focus would absolutely oppose any gay Supreme Court nominee, an abrupt about-face after Focus said last year that a nominee's orientation was "not even pertinent."

And for that, Focus on the Family is now being praised by LaBarbera for siding with all those good Christians who know that gays are "driven to justify their errant lifestyle" and therefore "have a mark against their character that absolutely should be considered as a potential source of bias, and even anti-religious animus":

Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), issued the following statement in response to Focus on the Family’s clarification that it would not support a homosexual nominee to the Supreme Court:

Focus on the Family has wisely corrected statements by two of its staffers who stated last year that the “sexual orientation” of judicial nominees – i.e., their homosexuality – would not disqualify them to sit on the nation’s highest court.

...

Americans For Truth, like other pro-family groups that honor the authority of Scripture, believes that homosexuality is best understood not as an “identity” but as a behavior – one that is wrong, destructive, and unnatural. Thankfully, homosexual conduct also is changeable (2 Corinthians 5:17), as evinced by the lives of countless former homosexual men and ex-lesbians living happy lives.

Supposed “gay” identity is a modern construct that undermines moral truth and people’s responsibility for their own conduct. Men and women (proudly) practicing homosexuality often are driven to justify their errant lifestyle. Even those practicing homosexuality in secret often work to promote its acceptance.

This is why people practicing homosexuality often make bad judges: even if they don’t admit it, due to their sexual self-interest, they will have a hard time fairly adjudicating cases involving homosexuality. If a judge personally views opponents of homosexuality as bigots, haters, or “homophobes” – the former terms falsely equate the outworking of faith with prejudice and malice; the latter cynically equates morality with irrational fear – will he or she be able to deal with them justly? Will homosexual judges be diligent in protecting Americans’ constitutional religious liberties – i.e., to disagree with homosexuality? Or will they – like lesbian law professor and newly-appointed EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum – decide that, in most cases, “gay rights” considerations should supersede the freedom of people to act based on their moral opposition to homosexuality?

Homosexuality is not special and it should be treated like any other sexual sin. Homosexuality (like gender confusion) does not deserve “civil rights” status. Judicial nominees who practice it – or worse, practice it proudly – have a mark against their character that absolutely should be considered as a potential source of bias, and even anti-religious animus, in their future rulings.

So congratulations to Focus on receiving the accolades from a SPLC-designated hate site. 

Remember not too long ago how we were being told that Focus under new president Jim Daly was going to have a different, more conciliatory tone? When is that supposed to start?

AFA's Fischer: Gays Are Biased, Sexually Deviant Felons And Can Never Serve On the Supreme Court

In a move that should surprise absolutely nobody, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer outdoes even Focus on the Family in declaring that the Religious Right cannot and will not support the idea of a gay Supreme Court nominee, "not under any circumstances," because they are sexually deviant felons who are inherently incapable of objectivity:

[A] gay judge's sexual preference will, without any question whatsoever, "interfere with their job." It's not possible for it to be otherwise ... We simply should not elevate to the highest court in the land people who are known for engaging in sexually abnormal behavior which would technically make them felons in a quarter of the states over which they will have jurisdiction.

...

A homosexual judge cannot help but give the home-field advantage to every legal team appearing before him who represents homosexual causes. It will be impossible for the visiting team, the team representing sexual normalcy and natural marriage, to get a fair shake in his courtroom.

This has never been more important than right now in contemporary American society. Think for a moment about the number of hot-button issues that revolve around the effort of activists to normalize formally felonious behavior.

Cases involving same-sex marriage are sure to arrive before the Court. Cases involving domestic partnerships and homosexual adoptions are sure to arrive before the Court. Cases involving special rights for homosexuals in the workplace are sure to arrive before the Court. Cases involving homosexual service in the military are sure to arrive before the Court.

Only an utter fool could convince himself that an active homosexual judge could be impartial in rendering judgment on such cases. The scales of "justice" would be tipped irrevocably toward the homosexual agenda and it would be moronic to think otherwise.

With an active homosexual on the bench, Lady Justice will no longer even pretend to be blind. She will be peeking out from under her blindfold to determine the sexual preference of those standing before her, then will let the fold slip back into place before ruling in every case to legitimize sexual deviancy.

Bottom line: the American ideal of absolute equality before the law will inevitably be shredded by a homosexual judge. Neither the Constitution nor the American people should be subjected to that kind of judicial malpractice. We can and should expect more from those who occupy seats on the highest bench in the land.

Imagine, just for a moment, what the response from the Religious Right would be if we replaced every use of the word "homosexual" in this piece with the word "Christian" in opposing a Republican SCOTUS nominee.

Focus On Gay Nominee: From "Not Even Pertinent" to "Non Starter"

As we noted in our earlier post, before President Obama named his nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, Religious Right groups were staking out the position that a gay nominee would not necessarily warrant their opposition:

In a move that will surprise gay activists and liberals, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, a top religious right group, tells me that his organization has no problem with GOP Senator Jeff Sessions‘ claim today that he’s open to a Supreme Court nominee with “gay tendencies.”

The spokesperson confirms the group won’t oppose a gay SCOTUS nominee over sexual orientation.

“We agree with Senator Sessions,” Bruce Hausknecht, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, which was founded by top religious right figure James Dobson, told me a few minutes ago. “The issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not.”

Their sexual orientation “should never come up,” he continued. “It’s not even pertinent to the equation.”

...

“Our concern at the Supreme Court is judicial philosophy,” FOF spokesperson Hausknecht continued. “Sexual orientation only becomes an issue if it effects their judging.” For example, he said, “If someone says, `I don’t care what the law says, on the next case involving sexual orientation, I’m going to decide the case in favor of the openly gay party,’ that would be a breach of judicial duty.”

Contrast that with the "clarification" Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery gave today to Peter LaBarbera:

“It has been reported that we would not oppose any U.S. Supreme Court nominee over their ’sexual orientation.’ Our Judicial Analyst [Bruce Hausknecht] made a statement to this effect in an interview with The Plum Line. To be honest, this is one of those conversations we’d like to ‘do over.’ We can assure you that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God’s created intent and desire for humanity. Further, we at Focus do affirm that character and moral rectitude should be key considerations in appointing members of the judiciary, especially in the case of the highest court in the land. Sexual behavior–be it heterosexual or homosexual–certainly lies at the heart of personal morality.”

Greg Sargent, to whom Hausknecht gave the above statement last year, understandably wanted to find out why Focus was suddenly backtracking, but Minnery inists that the group is doing nothing of the sort - it's just that Hausknecht got it wrong last time

“I don’t think it’s correct to say we’re backtracking,” he told me. “We didn’t get it right the first time.”

Asked if the new statement meant that being homosexual is a deal-breaker, Minnery replied: “Someone who is a practicing homosexual is a non starter for the group.” Asked if this was the case no matter what the person’s views, he replied: “That’s correct.”

A year ago, Focus on the Family said that a SCOTUS nominee's sexual orientation was "not even pertinent" to the question of whether they were qualified for the court. 

Today, Focus on the Family says that gays are sinners and immoral and the idea of not opposing a "practicing homosexual is a non starter," based solely on their sexual orientation.

All the while insisting that the group is not "backtracking."

SCOTUS Round-Up: Right Ready To Spend Millions Fighting Gay Nominee Women Don't Like

Remember last time around when various Religious Right groups were saying that they would not oppose a Supreme Court nominee just because said nominee was gay

In fact, Focus on the Family's Bruce Hausknecht went on record saying "the issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not":

“Our concern at the Supreme Court is judicial philosophy,” FOF spokesperson Hausknecht continued. “Sexual orientation only becomes an issue if it effects their judging.” For example, he said, “If someone says, `I don’t care what the law says, on the next case involving sexual orientation, I’m going to decide the case in favor of the openly gay party,’ that would be a breach of judicial duty.”

Well, Focus received a lot of flack for that from professional anti-gay activists like Gary Glenn and Peter LaBarbera and now Focus' Tom Minnery has "clarified" their position to LaBarbera, stating that the organization would oppose a gay nominee because said nominee would be, by definition, sinful and immoral: 

“It has been reported that we would not oppose any U.S. Supreme Court nominee over their ’sexual orientation.’ Our Judicial Analyst [Bruce Hausknecht] made a statement to this effect in an interview with The Plum Line. To be honest, this is one of those conversations we’d like to ‘do over.’ We can assure you that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God’s created intent and desire for humanity. Further, we at Focus do affirm that character and moral rectitude should be key considerations in appointing members of the judiciary, especially in the case of the highest court in the land. Sexual behavior–be it heterosexual or homosexual–certainly lies at the heart of personal morality.”

In other news, right-wing groups are planning on raising and spending millions of dollars to fight Obama's nominee, without even knowing who it is:

Even without a nominee, some conservative organizations are bracing for a fight based on the ideological leanings of previous Obama judicial nominees.

Carrie Severino, the general counsel for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, formerly called the Judicial Confirmation Network, said her group was prepared to launch a media campaign costing in the seven figures, similar to the one it waged against Sotomayor.

“I think we have funding in place. We are prepared to really fight,” she said.

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, another conservative group, said that a judicial fight can boost fundraising and energize the base to get out and vote in the midterm elections.

Finally, Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, has an op-ed on FoxNews.com explaining just "What Women Want In a Supreme Court Nominee" - remarkably, what all women want seems to be exactly the same as what CWA wants:

Just because Justice Stevens was a liberal on the Court, it does not mean that President Obama must nominate another liberal to replace him. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards is already salivating at the possibility of a justice who will “stand equally strong for” abortion on demand.

Obama sailed into office as a man expected to heal the nation, unite the political parties, and bring warm fuzzies to a country divided. On the contrary, since entering the White House our president and his policies have driven the country into an unfathomable divide, even lending to the uprising of the Tea Party movement, which brought out everyone from retirees to soccer moms -- and professionals who never cared about politics -- because Obama introduced policies that would destroy the lives they had built.

Women want a Justice who will uphold the Constitution, the right to life, and will preserve the family as a foundational cornerstone of our society. They don’t want someone who will legislate from the bench and uphold abhorrent legislation like the health care bill.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Not surprisingly, right-wing judicial nominations groups are hoping to exploit the Tea Party movement in opposing Obama's SCOTUS nominee.
  • Mike Huckabee claims The Perspective grossly distorted on gay marriage and Michael Steel; The Perspective responds by releasing the audio of the interview to support their article.
  • Joseph Farah calls John McCain "the father of the Birther movement."
  • CWA's "Issue Specialist for Pornography" is very concerned about Miley Cyrus and Dakota Fanning.
  • The National Organization for Marriage is running ads targeting New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch.
  • Who knew quitting could be so lucrative?
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Norton O. Rodriguez: "The film Kick Ass has crossed every imaginable line Hollywood has had when dealing with kids, guns and violence. Our nation's youth is already suffering from violent acts such as: bullying, teen depression, teen suicide and youth violence is already out of control in this country... And now Hollywood comes out with a film that promotes and glorifies guns and youth violence to the max. Please, say NO to Kick-Ass the movie."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Steve King are BFFs.  Why is that not surprising?
  • Why is Sen. Scott Brown's daughter now a contributor to "The Early Show"?
  • Rick Santorum says the only reason he endorsed Arlen Specter last time around was because Specter promised to support President Bush's SCOTUS nominees.
  • Focus on the Family has kicked-off a 12-city tour aimed at educating couples on how to strengthen their marriage, parenting skills, and family life.
  • Harry Jackson defends Michael Steel, saying Steel deserves more time to get things organized.  Seriously.
  • Quote of the day I from Dave Welch on standing up to gays: "We must stand boldly, declare God's standard of morality for the good of the people and take back the ground that has been yielded to the forces of spiritual darkness by cleaning house at every level of government, education, media and the arts. However, as it will be with God's judgment, we must start in the house of God. "
  • Quote of the day II comes from those who don't want to see Rick Green on the Texas Supreme Court: "Let’s not jeopardize that good work by electing someone who is likely to attract criticism and ridicule for himself and our entire judiciary."

Schlafly's Absurd SCOTUS Demand

I know that I made this point just the other day, but I think it warrants repeating by highlighting this absurd statement from Phyllis Schlalfy on how President Obama must nominate a veteran to the Supreme Court to replace John Paul Stevens:

"The vacancy resulting from Stevens' retirement is significant because it means that the Supreme Court is at risk of being left without a single military veteran. For as long as I can remember, the U.S. Supreme Court has included at least one military veteran.

"Considering President Obama's weak and highly unpopular track record on national defense issues, specifically his decision to try known terrorists in criminal court rather than in military tribunals and his recent announcement about U.S. nuclear disarmament, it is critical that President Obama replace a military veteran judge with another military veteran judge. If President Obama can make this happen, it will certainly be a winner with American voters, but if he does not, it will reinforce his commitment to ideology alone and further erode the American people's confidence in their president."

"In the midst of two wars, we must protect our military from radical, anti-military judicial nominees. President Obama would be foolish to leave the Supreme Court without any veterans."

"The U.S. Senate, both Democrats and Republicans alike, should not allow President Obama to thumb his nose at our armed services by replacing the last decorated veteran on the Supreme Court with a non-veteran. Our brave men and women who risk their lives for our nation's security deserve better."

You know what Schlafly has traditionally hated?  Quotas; judicial nominees who she suspected supported quotas; the use of quotas in the military; and especially "quotas in judicial appointments."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Alan Colmes: Doctor Against Treating Obama Supporters Admits Not Knowing What’s In Health Reform Bill.
  • Americans United: Religious Right Leader Says He Fears Theocracy (And We Fear He’s Fibbing).
  • Towleroad: Deepak Chopra Apologizes for Causing Mexicali Earthquake.
  • Minneapolis City Pages: Michele Bachmann's Census claptrap ignored in Minnesota.
  • Justin Elliot: Idaho GOP Gov Hopeful: I'm OK With Militias Showing 'A Little Force.'
  • Think Progress: GOP Willing To Filibuster Obama’s Yet-To-Be-Named SCOTUS Nominee.
  • Finally, John McCain declares "I never considered myself a maverick" and Steve Benen calls it "as pathetic a political display as anything we've seen in quite a while."

Schlafly Loves Quotas, When It Comes to SCOTUS

Phyllis Schlafly has dedicated her most recent column to making the rather odd demand that the next Supreme Court nominee must be a military veteran and that vets in the Senate must pressure him to make such a nomination, because his "disdain for the military is no secret"

For as long as we can remember, the U.S. Supreme Court has included at least one military veteran. Recent examples include Republican-appointed Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and Justice John Paul Stevens, who is expected to resign this year.

The Democrats have not placed a veteran on the Supreme Court in nearly half a century. When President Obama fills Stevens' seat, will the high court be left without anyone who has military experience?

Veterans in the U.S. Senate should make sure that such an embarrassment does not occur. Cases concerning the military appear every year before the Supreme Court, and our nation will not be well-served by a court lacking in military experience ... Obama's disdain for the military is no secret, and the leading names on his short list for possible Supreme Court appointment are as anti-military as he is. The number of veterans in Congress has declined to about 21 percent, but that's enough for them to make a public demand that high-court diversity include a veteran.

Schlafly then goes on to attack possible SCOTUS nominees including Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, Cass Sunstein, and Harold Koh, all for reasons that have nothing to do with military service, before finally criticizing Obama's recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, as if any of that has anything to do with her incoherent demand: 

Obama thumbed his nose at the Senate, but the Senate should not allow him to thumb his nose at our armed services by replacing the last decorated veteran on the Supreme Court with a non-veteran. The men and women who risk their lives for our nation's security deserve better.

And all this time I thought Schlafly vehemently opposed anything that smacked of quotas.

Citizens United: A Win For The "Regular Guy"

Yesterday's Citizens United ruling [PDF] by the Supreme Court has has now made it possible for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates ... and to hear the Religious Right tell it, it's a victory for the little guy:

Kelly Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation, tells OneNewsNow the decision is a great victory for freedom for every citizen.

"The government has no right to control the speech of citizens speaking out as a group during elections -- and these types of campaign finance laws are pure evil and destructive to any free society," he comments.

Shackelford notes that wealthy individuals such as George Soros are having a huge impact on elections, and he adds, "The idea that a group of citizens can't come together in some sort of corporate entity and speak their mind is really discrimination against the regular guy in this country" and against smaller businesses that want to take part in the election process.

The Family Research Council hails it as a victory for all of those oppressed "corporate citizens":

"Under the principles established by the First Amendment, nothing is more foundational than free speech. This is a win for free political speech and the right of corporate citizens to join the political process.

"The court's decision is a step toward restoring open political discourse in this country. Speech should not be truncated by government regulation; rather, transparency should be pursued. The standard of accountability must be full and prompt disclosure, not unconstitutional prohibitions on financial contributions.

While Focus on the Family rejoices, because apparently up until now, they too were having their voices silenced:

Tim Goeglein, vice president of external relations for Focus on the Family Action, said the pro-family movement will benefit.

"Organizations like Focus on the Family Action, the family policy councils, all of our allies," he said, "this will give us an incredible voice in the great issues of our time."

And Concerned Women for America declares that "Americans are the real winners today" and says the decision is the first step toward reclaiming "the ideals our Founders believed in when they fought and died to establish a country where we can be truly free to speak and worship our God without government interference":

Penny Young Nance, Concerned Women for America's (CWA) Chief Executive Officer, said, "The Court correctly concluded that judges should stop playing semantics with our Constitution and read the text as it is written. The government should not be limiting political speech because someone is rich or poor, or because they disagree with a particular point of view. Americans are the real winners today. Further, I recall upon the passage of the legislation that Members of Congress openly admitted voting in favor of the McCain-Feingold knowing it was unconstitutional. Those days have to end."

CWA President Wendy Wright said, "CWA joined an Amicus brief asking the Court to overrule these laws that serve only to chill political speech and open the door for those in power to choose favorites. We applaud the Court for listening to the voices of millions of Americans who believe in those foundational principles embodied by the First Amendment.

"We hope this is just the first in a series of steps to reclaim the ideals our Founders believed in when they fought and died to establish a country where we can be truly free to speak and worship our God without government interference."

You know, I wonder what these groups will be saying if the makers of Plan B were to now start pumping their $11 Billion into taking out conservative candidates who oppose their product.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • David Weigel discovers the source of the Birthers' forged Kenyan birth certificate.
  • Linda Harvey did not like Joe.My.God's take on her statement on the shooting in Tel Aviv, but JMG insists that her "words spoke for themselves and I stand by my original post."
  • Christy Hardin Smith asks if the NRA is backtracking on its opposition to Sonia Sotomayor by saying it doesn't know how heavily it will weigh the vote on her nomination in its scorecard.
  • Good As You: Concerned Women for America says gays are no different than thieves and alcoholics.
  • Talking Points Memo: Bonner and Associates was working on behalf of the coal industry when it sent forged letters -- purporting to come from local Hispanic and black groups -- to a member of Congress, urging him to oppose the recent climate change bill. Also, Rep. Ed Markey wants some answers from the company.

Surprise! The Right Opposes Sotomayor

In a move that nobody could have ever predicted, 150+ right-wing activists have signed on to a letter to the Senate opposing the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

156 conservative and constitutional cause leaders and citizens have signed a letter to members of the U.S. Senate expressing opposition to the confirmation of President Obama's nominee to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

One of the letter's signers, Richard A. Viguerie, said, "The media and Republicans aren't defining President Obama as an extremist politically and constitutionally; therefore, it is up to us conservatives. It is also important that a message be sent that, while Republicans may not be unified in opposing Obama's dangerous and unconstitutional agenda, conservatives and other constitutionalists are united."

"President Obama has nominated a radical judicial activist who apparently feels the need to mask her outrageous statements, rulings and writings over the years with the soothing words of a constitutionalist," said Kay Daly, president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. "Perhaps the Left has discovered that the American people most certainly do not want the Constitution to be radically altered on the whims of empathy. Sotomayor's extremist actions throughout the years speak far more loudly than the pretty words she spoke at her confirmation hearing. A 'no' vote for Sotomayor is a 'yes' vote for the Constitution," Daly said.

...

Among the 156 who signed the letter are: Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice and Manny Miranda of Third Branch; plus: Gary Aldrich, Bob Barr, Morton Blackwell, Brent Bozell, Floyd Brown, KellyAnne Conway, Janice Shaw Crouse, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Elaine Donnelly, Joseph Farah, Alan Gottlieb, Colin Hanna, Andrea Lafferty, Jeffrey Mazzella, Chuck Muth, Tony Perkins, Larry Pratt, William Redpath, Al Regnery, David Ridenour, Ron Robinson, Ilya Shapiro, Rev. Lou Sheldon, Matt Staver, Herb Titus and Wendy Wright.

The letter itself can be found here [PDF]:

We urge the Senate to reject Judge Sotomayor. Judge Sotomayor should remain a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals where her decisions would be subject to the check of the Supreme Court.

President Obama should nominate another candidate whose views of judicial power are demonstrably consistent with Article III of the Constitution. That means the next nominee’s views of the judiciary should be demonstrably inconsistent with the President’s, whose views are not consistent with Article III, even before that nominee’s confirmation hearings.

Given that Manuel Miranda is involved and that this letter is very much in keeping with how he operates, one is inclined to assume that this is another Third Branch Conference effort, though it may not be as neither the letter nor the press release list Miranda or the Conference as organizers, as is normally the case.

Perhaps it is some joint effort among various groups, which seems likely given that Richard Viguerie, Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice, and Kay Daly of the Coalition for a Fair Judicary are all featured and listed as contacts on the press release.

Noticeably, once again nobody from the Judicial Confirmation Network has signed on to the letter, which suggests that JCN either refused to join these activists or continues to be being shunned by them (Miranda recently dismissed them as "an arm of [the] Republican leadership.")

So despite the fact that, out of every right-wing group trying to rally opposition to Sotomayor, the JCN was by far the most tenacious and high-profile, nobody in this coalition seems to view them as a legitimate force.  Instead they align themselves with the likes of Kay Daly and her phony Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, which has been utterly AWOL and did, quite literally, nothing during the entire Sotomayor nomination.

Interesting strategy.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Allow us to congratulate Ed Whelan for doing the right thing and apologizing to Publius.
  • Karl Frisch presents to us the Conservative Misinformation University class of 2009.
  • Meanwhile, Salon presents "crazy right-wing myths about Obama 2.0."
  • Pam highlights the latest nonsense from Matt Barber.
  • Allow me to assure Steve Benen that he is not alone in feeling that "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), instead of becoming more credible and serious as her time in government progresses, is getting more ridiculous as time goes on."
  • Finally, I urge you to accept the mission Jeremy presents - you'll be surprised by the result.

JCN Takes Sotomayor Fight to the States

It looks like the Judicial Confirmation Network is taking its battle against the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the state level by teaming up with local activists and state-affiliates of national right-wing groups:

Grassroots Coalition Formed to Mobilize for SCOTUS Hearings

Little Rock -- On Thursday (June 4, 2008), key organizations from around Arkansas announced the formation of a “center-right” coalition, the Arkansas Judicial Network, in preparation for the nomination hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The initial coalition will consist of the following individuals and/or organizations:

· Anne Britton – NRA National Volunteer of the Year (2000)
· Jerry Cox – President, Arkansas Family Council
· Betsy Hagan – Chairman, Arkansas Chapter of Eagle Forum
· Doyle Webb -- Chairman, Republican Party of Arkansas
· Brian Vandiver – Attorney and Chairman of the Arkansas Federalist Society
· Cory Cox -- Attorney and former Chairman of the Arkansas Federalist Society
· David Fort – Small Business Owner and Chairman, Arkansas Federation of Young Republicans

This Arkansas Judicial Coalition will partner with the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN), (www.judicialnetwork.com) to ensure that Arkansans understand the judicial philosophy of Barack Obama’s appointee to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor.

Let's see, this new groups consists of members of the Federalist Society and the Eagle Forum, NRA volunteers, and the head of a state's Focus on the Family affiliate who took the lead last year in preventing gays and lesbians from being able to adopt children.

Where exactly are those representing the "center" in this "center-right coalition"?

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.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Christy Hardin Smith captures the essence of right-wing opposition to Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Media Matters has put together a large collection of right-wing commentators smearing Sotomayor as a bigot which, as Dave Neiwert points out, is itself rather ironic.
  • As Jed Lewison explains, Ronald Reagan was the original "reverse sexist," while FireDogLake notes that Republicans were once huge fans of things like diversity, which they are now decrying as crass identity politics.
  • Want to know who the leading right-wing activists are in opposing Sotomayor's nomination?  TPM has the details.
  • Sarah Posner points out that Tony Perkins' new Call 2 Fall effort includes the pastor who oversaw the attempted "rehabilitation" of Ted Haggard.
  • Finally, Matthew Yglesias wonders why conservatives need a "Center for American Progress for the right" when CAP itself was founded to be the Heritage Foundation of the left.

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.

SCOTUS Round-Up

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

The New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Washington Times:

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

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

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

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

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

The Washington Independent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Day Gardner says she is "baffled at the audacity of Barack who insists on speaking at this graduation even if graduating students don't want him there. President Obama doesn't get it. His ego is so big that he has no problem forcing himself on the students and faculty of Notre Dame." I too am baffled ... by Gardner's argument.
  • When Gary Cass and Bob Knight team up to discuss hate crimes legislation, you can guarantee that the information is going to be both accurate and informative.
  • FRC's Peter Sprigg says there has been no softening on their opposition to a gay SCOTUS nominee, saying "the chances of finding a highly-qualified judge who [has experienced same-sex attractions, but who also respects judicial restraint and the original intent of the Constitution] are probably about equal to the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle."
  • Al Mohler says Christians are "called to love and respect Muslims [but] not Islam" because it is a false religion.
  • The always timely Sarah Palin has now issued a statement in defense of Carrie Prejean ... days after everything had been settled.
  • And speaking of Republican embarrassments, two of the biggest are teaming up, with Michael Steele backing Michelle Bachmann's attacks on ACORN.
  • Finally, Pat Robertson says he's not surprised that President Obama bowed to King Abdullah ... because Obama has a Muslim name.

Right Calls to "Take Off the Gloves" Against Non-Existent SCOTUS Nominee

Ben Smith reports that right-wing groups met with several Republican Senators yesterday to plot strategy on how to defeat President Obama's Supreme Court nominee:

Leaders of some of the social and judicial conservative groups planning an all-out fight over the Supreme Court nominee met with Republican Senators yesterday, a source says, passing on a couple of the items that came up in the meetings.

Centrally, it remains unclear how broadly the Republican leadership will commit to a fight, particularly on this first nominee, and so that's the question currently being arbitrated.

One of the conservatives talking points was money. Conservatives are telling the GOP that a court confrontation will be great fundraising, saying the NRSC raised some $200,000 at a breakfast yesterday with wealthy conservative donors, with the court issue dominating discussion, and that the key outside groups have raised some $1.2 million in advance of an expected fight in recent weeks, on top of money that other top conservative legal warries [sic] like Leonard Leo and C. Boyden Gray have been raising toward this cause over the last few months.

The groups are also hoping to reverse what has generally been positive press for most of the mentioned possible nominees, and there were calls to "take off the gloves, " and talk of a video being released on a call with 60 conservative groups tomorrow.

One other tidbit from the meetings: Republicans could raise objections to Elena Kagan's nomination because of the possible delays in getting documents related to her service in the Clinton Administration from the Clinton Library.

Of course, right-wing groups like the Judicial Confirmation Network and the Committee for Justice (who were presumably involved in this meeting) are raising millions of dollars to prevent President Obama's nominee from getting confirmed, even though they were founded in order "to support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States." But only under President Bush, apparently.

And why exactly are there calls to "take off the gloves"?  Against who?  There hasn't even been a nominee yet.  

It's good to see that these groups, which once existed to ensure that President Bush's nominees received fair treatment and an up-or-down vote, are now fully committed to savaging and defeating President Obama's nominee ... even before they have any idea who it is.

Syndicate content

SCOTUS Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Thursday 09/16/2010, 4:41pm
People For's President, Michael Keegan, sent the following letter today to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, all of whom are scheduled to appear this weekend at the Values Voter Summit, alongside the virulantly anti-Muslim and anti-gay Bryan Fischer. Dear ________: I am writing to express my concern about your appearance this weekend at the upcoming Values... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/16/2010, 10:42am
Today, NPR ran a story on the tension between Tea Party activists who want to focus on economic and spending issues, and social conservatives who want the movement to take a stand on things like abortion and gay marriage.  And, for some reason, NPR thought that a anti-gay, anti-Muslim bigot like the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer was the best person to make the case for the social conservatives: Morning Edition is taking a closer look at the groups that make up the Tea Party. Steve Inskeep talks to Toby Marie Walker, lead facilitator for the Waco Tea Party, and... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 08/24/2010, 4:10pm
It it too much to ask of the mainstream media that if they are going to quote the AFA's Bryan Fischer, that they mention his long history of making militantly anti-gay statements, especially when they are quoting him in an article relating to gay issues? Apparently, because Fischer's well-established hatred all of things gay didn't warrant even a passing mention in this USA Today article about how increasingly "gay relationships and gay families are portrayed as just like other families" in movies and television: It's a landscape that many Americans still don't accept. Such... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/18/2010, 11:53am
For the last few weeks, we've been chronicling Chuck Colson's plan to raise up a nationwide opposition to gay marriage in an attempt to sway the Supreme Court by demonstrating that Americans will not tolerate any decision that recognizes marriage equality. And he is still at it, again making it the focus of his newest "Two Minute Warning" video. In this one, Colson says that Republicans have taken social conservatives for granted for too long and this year are trying to downplay social issues in order to focus on economic issues as a winning election strategy.  That is... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/16/2010, 2:44pm
You have to give Bob Allen and Associated Baptist Press credit for this tremendous article which so perfect exposes the hypocrisy that Religious Right leaders keep offering up as they seek to justify their fight against the "Ground Zero Mosque" - leaders like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:  "I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent," said Land, the denomination's top representative on moral,... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 08/12/2010, 1:40pm
For all the flag-waving Tea Party placards accusing the Obama administration of unconstitutional acts and treason, it seems that threats of revolution against the constitutional republic of the United States are coming mostly from the right wing – and not just from fringe militia groups. We recently noted that Religious Right activist Chuck Colson has launched an effort to bully the Supreme Court into opposing marriage equality by threatening that a pro-equality ruling would result in “cultural Armageddon.” And we have noted the American Family Association’s Bryan... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/11/2010, 12:24pm
Last week we noted how Chuck Colson had come up with a plan, in the wake of the Prop 8 ruling, to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling in favor of gay marriage: build a groundswell of opposition to the idea for the sole purpose of convincing that Supreme Court that any ruling recognizing the right to marriage equality will not be accepted by the people. And that is exactly what he is setting out to do, saying in this new video that "of course, the Justices will listen to legal arguments, they'll weigh the precedents, but in the final analysis they will not approve gay marriage if... MORE