Supreme Court

Heritage Demands SCOTUS Blockade As Part of Scorched-Earth Obstructionism

As the New York Times explained earlier this week, the Senate GOP’s promises to block anyone who President Obama nominates to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court amounts to a ratcheting up of a campaign of obstruction on nominees that has lasted throughout Obama’s time in office.

This is in part thanks to the lobbying of conservative groups who, even before Scalia’s death, were urging Senate Republicans to block nearly every Obama nominee in his final year in office.

A particularly influential force behind this effort has been the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that has in recent years become a bludgeoning arm for the Tea Party as it pressures GOP lawmakers away from allowing the government to function in any sort of bipartisan manner.

Heritage, under the leadership of former Sen. Jim DeMint, and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action, headed up by Michael Needham, have worked to pressure the GOP to be an immovable agent of obstruction in a divided government. One House Republican accused Heritage Action last year of insisting on “an unachievable standard” of conservativism that actually “hurts” the party’s goals by preventing reasonable action and compromise.

Heritage Action’s version of conservativism is so far out of the mainstream that even Senate Republicans score an average of just 60 percent on its legislative scorecard. The two senators who have perfect scores from group are Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been boasting of his bridge-burning obstructionism as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination. (Sen. Marco Rubio, a supposedly mainstream rival to Cruz, ranks an impressive fourth in Heritage’s ranking of senators.)

Heritage Action’s single-minded focus on attacking the Affordable Care Act infamously helped lead to the 2013 government shutdown. One fellow ACA opponent slammed Heritage and Cruz for the ordeal, writing that the “entire affair was bungled by a few narcissistic conservative groups and senators” and ended up actually hurting the cause they were claiming to support.

Heritage and Heritage Action have applied the same scorched-earth tactics to Obama judicial nominations, urging the GOP to shut down all executive branch and judicial confirmations even before the death of Scalia.

Politico reported in January that in advance of a GOP retreat in Baltimore, Heritage Action circulated a document among lawmakers declaring, “Given the Obama administration’s disregard for Congress’s role in our constitutional system of government, the Senate should refuse to confirm the president’s nominees unless those nominees are directly related to our national security.” This echoed previous calls from Heritage’s favorite senators, Lee and Cruz, to completely shut down the judicial confirmation process.

Later that month, Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios agreed that Republicans should oppose all future Obama judicial nominees because, in von Spakovsky’s words, they would all share Obama’s “radical left-wing views.”

On January 26, Heritage Action announced that it would “continue to oppose all judicial nominees and reserve the right to key vote against any and all judicial nominees retroactively,” meaning that it would count support for any Obama judicial nominee against members of Congress in its scorecards — even, apparently, in votes that had already taken place. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid specifically called out Heritage Action for pressuring GOP senators against action on judicial nominees.

Unsurprisingly, Heritage Action and the Heritage Foundation are now pressuring GOP senators to hold Justice Scalia’s seat open until the next president takes office. Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, who, as a Republican senator, built a reputation as a “warrior for purity” within the party, wrote on Tuesday that the Senate “can and should withhold its consent” from any Obama nominee.

In another interview with Rios on Monday, von Spakovsky offered a barely veiled threat to Republican senators contemplating considering an Obama nominee.

“I think they understand that if they were to confirm a liberal Obama nominee this year, it would be an absolute election disaster,” he said. “I mean, I’ve already heard from folks in the conservative community saying that if any Republican senator works to confirm an Obama nominee, they’re going to be a massive target of people trying to get them out of office because they’ll be so upset about that.”

Now that a Supreme Court seat is at stake, the conservative movement is converging on this line of thinking, inventing bogus new “traditions” in an attempt to justify keeping a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year.

There are plenty of conservative groups that are promising an all-out campaign to keep an Obama Supreme Court nominee off the bench — the Times says that the American Center for Law and Justice, the right-wing legal group founded by Pat Robertson, started opposition research on potential nominees “moments” after Scalia’s death was announced. But Heritage’s commitment to keeping any Obama nominees off the federal bench speaks to the real motivations behind the effort to stop any Supreme Court nominee: turning the Congress into a force of obstruction, not of governing.

Donald Trump: 'Trust Me' To Overturn The 'Shocking' Gay Marriage Decision

In an interview with Pat Robertson’s television network yesterday, Donald Trump insisted that anti-gay conservatives can rest assured knowing that he is committed to overturning the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

When the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody asked the GOP presidential frontrunner what he thought of the Log Cabin Republicans calling him “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency,” Trump said he hadn’t heard the remarks and criticized the “shocking” and “massive” Obergefell ruling.

Trump also vowed to defund Planned Parenthood unless the group stops performing abortions.

He then told Brody that he would appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, hoping that the ruling gets “unpassed.”

Five Bogus Right-Wing Excuses For Obstructing Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

It didn’t take long for Republicans to admit that their purportedly principled vow to block anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia is all about politics.

Just minutes after the news broke of Scalia’s death, many Republican politicians and conservative activists said that the Senate should refuse to hold any hearings or votes on whomever Obama nominates to replace him because it is an election year.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson have both admitted that if they or another Republican were in the White House, they would have no problem with filling the vacancy. Different rules, it seems, apply to President Obama.

This admission undermines the GOP’s entire argument that they are simply abiding by a nonpartisan tradition of refusing judicial confirmations in election years, an assertion also contradicted by past statements from Senate Republicans such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who said in 2008 that “the reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”

Before the president has even hinted at his choice to replace Scalia on the court, Republicans have been busy concocting bogus “traditions” and other excuses for obstruction — all in an effort to hide the partisan motivations behind keeping Scalia’s seat open.

5) It’s A Tradition!

Several conservatives have been pushing the easily debunked claim that the Senate never confirms a nominee to the Supreme Court during an election year.

Marco Rubio said on Meet the Press that “it’s not just for the Supreme Court, even for appellate courts, both parties have followed this precedent. There comes a point in the last year of the president, especially in their second term, where you stop nominating, or you stop the advice and consent process.”

Rubio’s claim was demonstrably false, but he wasn’t alone in making it.

During Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, moderator John Dickerson called out Ted Cruz for saying that “we have 80 years of precedent for not confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year,” noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy was in fact confirmed in 1988, Ronald Reagan’s final year in office. Cruz responded that “Kennedy was confirmed in ’87,” which is simply untrue. (The audience booed Dickerson for saying he “wanted to get the facts straight for the audience.”)

Cruz’s father, Rafael, took it one step further, telling Pat Robertson that “if the Democrats want to appoint somebody, let them win the election,” seeming to forget that President Obama was elected for a full term in 2012 and that the drafters of the Constitution didn’t want Supreme Court appointments put up to a popular vote.

4) Chuck Schumer Said…

Conservative activists have seized on remarks that Sen. Chuck Schumer made in 2007, which they claim prove that the New York Democrat favored blocking any Supreme Court justice nominated by George W. Bush in case of a vacancy in his last year in office.

However, this line of attack conveniently ignores a key part of Schumer’s speech, where he said that Democrats would only oppose a far-right judicial nominee, explaining that “they must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.”

Josh Marshall of TPM notes that conservatives are misreporting the content of Schumer’s speech:

Schumer quite explicitly never said that the Bush shouldn’t get any more nominations. He also didn’t say that any nominee should be rejected. He said they should insist on proof based on judicial history, rather than just promises that they were mainstream conservatives rather than conservative activists, which both have proven to be. But again, set all this aside. He clearly spoke of holding hearings and being willing to confirm Bush nominees if they met reasonable criteria.

3) What About Robert Bork?

In defense of their stance that Republicans should refuse to consider any Obama Supreme Court nominee, some conservatives have cited the 1987 fight over Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which they offer as proof that Democrats have done the same thing in the past.

This is an odd case to bring up, seeing that Bork did in fact receive a fair hearing and a vote on the Senate floor, two things many Republicans today say should not be given to a future Obama pick.

Bork was voted down by a bipartisan majority of senators due to his extremist views, particularly his hostility to civil rights laws, which is a completely different matter than flatly refusing to hold committee hearings or a vote on a nominee.

2) Obama Is Packing The Court!

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that, ironically, was previously named the Judicial Confirmation Network, told the Washington Post on Monday that “if the president tries to pack the court, as it is apparent he may, then JCN will be leading the charge to delay a Senate vote until the American people decide the next president.”

“Obama doesn’t give a crap about the Constitution…he sees an opportunity to pack the court,” conservative radio host Mark Levin said. “Obama wants to pack the court. That’s what he wants to do on the way out the door and he must be prevented.”

Simply fulfilling his constitutional duties to fill a vacancy in the court following a jurist’s death is not an attempt to “pack” the court. Court packing is when an official tries to expand the current size of the court or create new courts in order to appoint new judges without waiting for vacancies.

1) Obama Has A ‘Conflict Of Interest’

Sen. Rand Paul, who styles himself as a constitutional scholar, said he is uncomfortable with President Obama appointing anyone to the bench because the Supreme Court is considering cases involving Obama’s executive orders on issues like immigration and environmental regulation.

Therefore, Paul concludes, Obama “has a conflict of interest here in appointing somebody” to the court.

The Kentucky Republican’s logic that a president shouldn’t be allowed to make judicial nominations because they may have to rule on actions of the executive branch is absurd on its face. The Constitution provides the president the power to do just that and, if Paul’s logic were to be applied, no president would be able to make any nominations at any time in office.

According to this argument, senators would similarly have a “conflict of interest” in voting to confirm Supreme Court justices since a future justice would likely decide on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.

Paul’s bizarre assertion that presidents shouldn’t be allowed to appoint justices due to a possible “conflict of interest” merely speaks to how desperate the GOP has become in trying to come up with dubious arguments that will make their proposed blockade seem like a principled stance, rather than what it really is: a brazenly partisan endeavor that will allow them to shirk their constitutional responsibilities.

Surprise! Tony Perkins Lies About Obama's Response To Scalia's Death

On Saturday, about an hour after officials confirmed the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would try to block the confirmation of any person President Obama nominated to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court. One White House aide told Politico that although the administration wasn’t surprised by McConnell’s commitment to obstruction, the speed with which he vowed a fight after Scalia’s death was a “real shocker.”

Some of McConnell’s fellow senators and conservative pressure groups — including the Family Research Council — quickly echoed his call to obstruction.

Later on Saturday evening, President Obama delivered short remarks commemorating Scalia and responding directly to McConnell’s threat by saying that he planned to nominate a new Supreme Court justice in “due time” and called on the Senate “to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.”

But in the world of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, what really happened was that President Obama politicized the justice’s death, forcing McConnell and his fellow senators to “fire back.”

In an email to supporters yesterday, Perkins accused Obama of violating a nonexistent “80-year tradition of leaving an election-year vacancy to the next president,” prompting noble GOP senators to contradict him:

There are dozens of high-profile cases pending before the Court -- including the key conservative battles over the Texas abortion law and the conscience rights of Little Sisters of the Poor. While the Court copes with Scalia's absence, the White House seems intent on nominating his replacement, despite the 80-year tradition of leaving an election-year vacancy to the next president. Invoking the Constitution he has selective use for, President Obama told reporters it was his "duty" to submit a name to the U.S. Senate for confirmation. Of course, the greatest insult to Justice Scalia's memory would be to appoint a replacement in the mold of Obama, who's spent seven years trampling on the Constitution on the way to his own personal policy goals.

Almost immediately, Senate leaders fired back, insisting that voters were less than nine months away from selecting a new president -- and, following eight decades of tradition, Scalia's replacement should be left to that person. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others in insisting there would be no confirmation "The fact of the matter is that it's been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year," Mr. Grassley said. "Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court justice."

Schlafly: GOP Must Block All Obama Judicial Nominees, Strip Courts Of Funding And Power

Right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly wrote today that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is “a terrible loss for our Nation” and “a reason for Republicans to rethink their approach to the judicial branch of our government.”  The Eagle Forum founder agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to block any nominee President Obama puts forward to fill the Scalia vacancy, but she wants much more — essentially a declaration of war on the federal judiciary by a conservative Congress.

Of course Senate Republicans should block President Obama from filling this Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, and they have 80 years of precedent on their side. But Republicans should go further and block nominations for all the other vacancies in the federal judiciary, too.

But even with that call for a total blockade of the federal courts, Schafly is just warming up. She wants Congress to cut funding for the courts, cut funding for the enforcement of what she believes are “bad” court decisions, and strip the courts of their jurisdiction over immigration, abortion, and marriage:

It’s fine for the Republican presidential candidates to point out that a vacancy on the Supreme Court is part of the upcoming election, and to promise to fill Justice Scalia’s immense shoes with someone similar. But even if a Republican wins the upcoming presidential election, even if he picks another Justice Scalia, and even if he is confirmed by the Senate, the federal judiciary will still be stuffed with hundreds of activist judges appointed by Obama, Clinton, and even Jimmy Carter.

The Founders gave Congress everything necessary to take power away from this runaway federal judiciary. Congress can deprive the federal courts of power over immigration, abortion and marriage, and can completely defund enforcement of bad federal court decisions that are already on the books.

Congress spent months trying unsuccessfully to defund Planned Parenthood, a laudable goal, but Congress can more effectively defund enforcement of the pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage decisions by the judiciary without sparking a phony “war on women” debate.

Congress should also defund use of taxpayer money by the Department of Justice to push the liberal agenda in the liberal courts. Congress should cut back on the funding for the courts themselves, too, and eliminate rather than fill some of the vacancies.

While stopping short of an actual endorsement, Schlafly recently called Donald Trump “the only hope” that grassroots activists have, while many of her Eagle Forum colleagues have endorsed Ted Cruz. But Schlafly is apparently not satisfied with any of the presidential candidates:

While some presidential candidates promise to work with Congress, none of them promise to rein in the Supreme Court in the absence of Justice Scalia. None of them promise to stand up against an unconstitutional order by an activist court by refusing to enforce it, as the next president could do with respect to activist Supreme Court rulings on immigration, abortion, and marriage.

Far-Right Pundit: Obama To 'Starve Americans Into FEMA Camps' After Murdering Scalia

On Monday, right-wing radio host Rick Wiles spoke with a fellow apocalyptic pundit, Steve Quayle, about his theory that President Obama murdered Justice Antonin Scalia as a human sacrifice to Satan.

After Quayle, the host of the “Coast to Coast” End Times-themed radio program, agreed that Scalia’s death was part of an occult ritual, the two addressed what they think will happen in the U.S. following this alleged murder.

I think the starvation, the plan to starve Americans into the FEMA camps” will soon be unveiled, Quayle said, arguing that Scalia’s death foretells the death of the Constitution.

“When you kill off the oldest guy who is foundationally sound — I would say this, Judge Scalia’s murder is equal to, if you will, the last pillar holding up what was left of the Constitution. I believe, and somebody’s already put it out on the internet, if you believe in the Constitution, you will be a criminal,” he said.

Wiles added that the supposed murder of Scalia proves the U.S. has become “a banana republic,” while Quayle said that he heard that Donald Trump “sent a private letter” to Vladimir Putin warning him that “this administration is resorting to murder.”

Quayle then predicted that the U.S. government will soon complete its transform into Nazi Germany and engage in the “mass murder” of Americans.

“I find it interesting that Justice Scalia died on the 44th day of the year and Obama is the 44th president of the United States and here, once again, we have an unusual news event in which numerology appears,” Wiles said. “Are these people that are running this country sick, Luciferian, devil-worshiping, Satanists?”

“Absolutely,” Quayle replied.

James Dobson: Only Ted Cruz Can Overturn Gay Marriage

In a video message today, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once again urged conservatives to back Ted Cruz over Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, warning that the Texas senator’s rivals can’t be trusted to overturn the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Cruz, who has vowed to defy the Obergefell decision if elected president, has attacked Trump and Rubio for not being as vocal in their opposition to same-sex marriage.

Dobson also touted Heidi Cruz as potentially being the country’s “very first pro-life first lady.”

Alberto Gonzales: No 'Standard Practice' Of Blocking Justices In Election Year

Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and attorney general under George W. Bush, is one of the handful of Republicans who has broken ranks to say that President Obama does indeed have the right to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

In an interview with Newsmax TV yesterday, Gonzales repeated his argument and skewered the claim from Sen. Chuck Grassley , chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the Senate’s “standard practice” not to confirm Supreme Court justices during a presidential election year.

“If there is such a standard practice within the Senate, it’s one that I’m not aware of and I was not made aware of when I was White House counsel or as attorney general,” Gonzales told Newsmax’s Ed Berliner. “Again, not having served in the Senate, I can’t speak with authority as to what is standard practice, but certainly if that is the standard practice, that was never communicated to the Bush White House or the Bush administration.”

John Hagee Says America 'Will Be Lost Forever And Immediately' If Obama Is Allowed To Replace Justice Scalia

On yesterday's episode of the "Hagee Hotline," Pastor John Hagee declared that America "will be lost forever and immediately" if President Obama is allowed to name a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

"Justice Scalia's death makes this presidential election a battle for the future of this nation," Hagee said. "If the president is allowed by the Senate to appoint a Supreme Court justice, America as we know it will be lost forever and immediately. A fifth liberal justice on the court will pass the socialist agenda of the president with lightening speed. Every person listening to this telecast should contact their senator and urge them not to consider any candidate to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court until the next president has been elected by the American people. For once, let the voice of the American people make the call, not the political establishment in Washington, D.C."

Hagee then went on to declare that Obama "has a master's degree in deception" for daring to suggest that there is any sort of urgency in confirming a replacement for Scalia and called upon all Republican senators to "boycott any person that the president of the United States puts forward."

Hagee then bizarrely asserted that Democrats in 1960 "passed a law forbidding a president in the last year of his presidency to select a Supreme Court justice."

"Strange how history comes back to bite you," Hagee said, "but now the shoe is on the other foot. They, the Democrats, should live by the law they established and stand down until the next president is elected."

The Democrats, of course, never passed any such "law," but merely passed a non-binding resolution urging President Eisenhower not to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, should one arise, using a recess appointment, as he had done on several previous occasions.

Trump Says His SCOTUS Nominees Would Be 'As Close To Scalia As You Could Find'

Donald Trump doubled down on his promise to appoint extremely conservative Supreme Court justices on Monday, telling conservative talk radio host Mike Gallagher that, if he were to become president, his court picks would be “as close to Scalia as you could find.”

In the same interview, as Media Matters noted yesterday, Trump entertained conspiracy theories about Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, calling them “big stuff.” Trump made similar comments to conservative radio host Michael Savage on Tuesday.

“Should the Senate absolutely make every effort to block a liberal justice appointee from President Obama?” Gallagher asked Trump.

“I think absolutely,” Trump responded. “I mean, why shouldn’t we? They can do it easily. The time, fortunately, is not that long, and it seldom happened where they appointed in that last year. No, we have to do that, we have to do that.”

He added that if the Senate fails to block an Obama nominee, it will become “even easier” for him to win the GOP presidential nomination by capitalizing on conservative backlash.

When Gallagher asked what kind of justices he would put on the Supreme Court, Trump repeated the name of George W. Bush appeals court nominee Diane Sykes , adding, “I’ll tell you, honestly, as close to Scalia as you could find would be the best way to describe it, that’s what I would want.”

Mark Levin: 'God Save Us From What Obama Must Do' To The Supreme Court

Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin joined the chorus of conservative activists urging Senate Republicans to block any nominee President Obama puts forward to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, telling Stephen Bannon of “Breitbart News Daily” over the weekend that people criticizing this strategy of obstructionism just don’t “care about the nation” the way conservatives do.

“It is a terrible day when a nation loses a man like this, and God save us from what Obama must do,” Levin said. “And we must insist that the Republican Senate must stand up and give him no quarter, they must stand up and block anyone or anything Obama tries to do.”

“I don’t think we should ram through an Obama appointee in a Republican Senate, for God’s sakes,” he said. “I mean, I’m sitting here thinking about it, you’re going to hear people say, ‘Well, this is unprecedented if we do this, and the Republicans…’ These aren’t people who really care about the nation the way I do or you do or our audiences do. No, they like the direction of the country, they just don’t think we’re going fast enough or hard enough radical left.”

Levin also issued a warning to Senate Republicans who might consider voting on an Obama nominee, calling them a “Fifth Column” and warning that the Supreme Court fight is “a litmus test for the survival of the Republican Party.”

“If a Republican majority in the United States Senate confirms a nominee by the most radical president certainly in modern history, if ever, who has stated his goal of fundamentally transforming America,” he said, “if a Republican majority confirms one of his nominees, at least in my mind, it’s over.”

Alex Jones: Obama Killed Scalia And 'All Hell Is About To Break Loose'

Still insisting that President Obama was behind Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones charged yesterday that more and more conservatives will soon be assassinated by the government.

The Infowars broadcaster claimed that he had a “sixth sense” that “something big” was about to happen hours before the media reported on Scalia’s death. He added that he had “sweat running down me” because he knew following Scalia’s death that “all hell is about to break loose.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other conservative leaders, he warned, may also soon wind up dead: “Maybe they’ll find the governor with a pillow over his face, maybe that’s the new thing. All of these conservatives that are fighting back that are real conservatives, they are all being found with pillows over their faces.”

“Man, the psy-op is deep on this one,” Jones said, comparing Scalia’s death to his belief that 9/11 was an inside job.

While Jones lamented that “Scalia walked into the perfect bear trap,” the InfoWars news crew also claimed that Obama wanted to “take out” Scalia in order to push through gun control and introduce socialism to the country.

“This is it. This is the final assault,” Jones said. “This is the beginning of the final war.”

Jay Sekulow: 'Advice And Consent' Means Telling Obama 'Don't Put Up A Nominee'

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the conservative legal group American Center for Law and Justice, offered a creative interpretation of the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on presidential nominations today, saying that the “advice” the Senate should be offering President Obama is not to appoint anybody to the Supreme Court.

Jay Sekulow appeared with Pat Robertson, ACLJ’s founder, on “The 700 Club” this morning to discuss the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting fight over his replacement on the court.

Robertson, sounding somewhat bewildered, noted that one potential Obama nominee for the vacancy, Judge Sri Srinivasan, “is an Indian, he actually was born in India,” concluding that “they shouldn’t rush somebody on” the court until the next president takes office.

Sekulow agreed that Senate Republicans should “just say no” to any Obama nominee.

“The Republicans need to say no,” he insisted. “It’s that simple. Just say no. That’s the way the rules are structured. The Senate has a role in this, the Constitution says ‘advice and consent.’ The advice here is, ‘Don’t put up a nominee when you’re only going to be the president, you’re a lame duck and you’re only going to be the president for 11 months.’”

As well as his questionable claim that Obama is a “lame duck” president months before an election has been held for his replacement, Sekulow falsely claimed that there “hasn’t been a confirmation when there’s been an appointment during an election year since 1880.”

Conservative Groups Circle The Wagons On SCOTUS Obstruction

When the news broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republicans in the Senate almost immediately vowed to block the nomination of any person President Obama puts forward to fill the empty Supreme Court seat.

Conservative groups quickly followed suit, putting forward various rationales for keeping a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year in the hopes that a Republican is elected president in November.

Some of these activists made variations on the false claim that the Senate never confirms judicial nominees during election years. Others warned of dire consequences for America if the president is allowed a Supreme Court pick. One activist going so far as to claim that Scalia’s seat should be kept vacant in perpetuity until a Republican is elected president.

Conservative legal activist Ed Whelan said it would be “grossly irresponsible” to let Obama pick the next justice:

Senate Republicans would be grossly irresponsible to allow President Obama, in the last months of his presidency, to cement a liberal majority that will wreak havoc on the Constitution. Let the people decide in November who will select the next justice.

Whelan also told “Breitbart News Daily” that “we are at risk of really losing the Supreme Court and losing the Constitution.”

The American Center for Law and Justice ’s Jay Sekulow said that President Obama was perfectly free to nominate a conservative to replace Scalia:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are both committed to letting the American people decide at the ballot box this November, letting our 45th President appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement. While President Obama remains free to appoint a conservative committed to upholding the Constitution as his replacement, he has given us no reason to believe he would.

So the American people should get to decide.

This is a prime opportunity for all branches of government to show that we still have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network (formerly the Judicial Confirmation Network), said President Obama is the “last person” who should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice:

… This president, who has shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws, is the last person who should be appointing his successor. The American people on both sides of the aisle are disgusted with the status quo in Washington and another nomination by this President would just bring about more of the same. The people’s voice should be heard in November to determine who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Mat Staver, head of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel (which represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and is now representing an anti-Planned Parenthood activist) declared that the “future of the Supreme Court and America” depends on the Senate blocking any Obama nominee:

“With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance. The Senate must not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court from President Obama. The Senate must hold off any confirmation until the next President is seated. Unfortunately the presidential debates have been more theater and less substance about the real issues surrounding the Supreme Court. The election of the next President has now taken on even greater importance. The future of the Supreme Court and America now depends on the Senate blocking any nominee by President Obama and the people electing the right person to occupy the White House,” said Staver.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins echoed the call to hold Scalia's seat open:

"The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now. With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat," concluded Perkins.

As did the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith:

We cannot allow President Obama to replace him with a judicial activist. Activist judges have mangled the Constitution almost beyond recognition, and we cannot allow Justice Scalia to be replaced by a justice who will continue to shred the Constitution rather than protect it and uphold it.

While the Constitution gives the president the right to nominate Supreme Court justices, it also gives the Senate the right to reject them. The Constitution does not even require an unacceptable nominee be given a vote on the floor.

Americans United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest said, “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election.”

Alan Sears, head of Alliance Defending Freedom, hedged his bets, saying that “it is unlikely that a new justice will be installed prior to the election of our next president.

Janet Porter of Faith 2 Action declared, “The best way to honor Justice Scalia’s legacy is to make sure there is no Obama nominee confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

Troy Newman, head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and a member of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, warned that if Obama were to nominate the next justice, America would become a “totalitarian government”:

"With the passing of the esteemed Justice Scalia, America stands at a crossroads. Will she choose the path of fascism or freedom? We are just one Obama appointee away from a totalitarian government. Two years ago, the GOP promised the American people that, if elected, they would thwart Obama's radical leftist agenda. This is the GOP's moment. Will it shine as a light for liberty in this dark moment or will that light be extinguished by political appeasement?" asked Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

John Zmirak, editor of James Robison’s website The Stream, went even further, saying that if the next president is a Democrat, a Republican Senate should still refuse to confirm any of their judicial nominees:

But they should go further. As long as Republicans control the Senate, there is no excuse for any pro-choice, anti-gun rights, anti-marriage justices to be confirmed to our highest court. If, God forbid, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is elected, they should face a Republican Senate — or even a GOP minority — that will obstruct their every judicial appointment, even if it means leaving key seats on national benches empty, for years at a time. As justices retire or die, the court will simply grow smaller. Big deal. America will muddle through. This is the kind of implacable determination that defeated the solidly conservative Justice Bork and got us the muddled Anthony Kennedy — and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Obergefell. It is time for that worm to turn.

Conservatives must drop the facade of high-minded bipartisanship, which only ever cuts to the left. The courts have staggering power to change our lives, and damage our country. They can kill our nation’s unborn babies, seize our guns and punish our churches. If GOP senators aren’t willing to fight long, hard and relentlessly to stop that from happening, we should find other senators who can, back them in the next primary election, and cripple the re-election of squishy moderate turncoats. A presidential candidate who appreciates all this will get my vote. And I think he’ll earn yours.

Ann Coulter: Liberals Using Supreme Court To Further 'Total Marxist Takeover Of The Country'

In a Sunday interview with Breitbart News, Ann Coulter reflected on Justice Scalia’s legacy on the Supreme Court, which she lamented has become a vehicle for the nefarious liberal agenda despite the best efforts of Scalia and others conservative justices.

“Liberals can’t get their ideas through, they can’t get people to join them in their ideas for a total Marxist takeover of the country, abortion on demand, gay marriage was not doing very well in the democratic process,” she said.

But since liberals don’t believe in democracy, she explained, “they just go up to the Supreme Court and say, ‘Could you please hallucinate a right to gay marriage in the Constitution?’”

Rafael Cruz: America Will Be Gone In 30 Years If Obama Gets SCOTUS Appointee

In an interview today with Pat Robertson, Rafael Cruz went on a long rant about gun reform, gay marriage and the Supreme Court, warning that America won’t survive more than 30 years if President Obama is allowed to nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

Cruz, the father of Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, told Robertson that President Obama may join the ranks of dictators like Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Zedong who had “taken away the weapons of the people and then used them against the people.”

“President Obama is trying to use every time he can to disarm America,” he said.

However, Cruz said that he is hopeful about the future of America because of the Supreme Court’s “decision against traditional marriage,” telling Robertson that “the Devil overplayed his hand” with the ruling and has motivated conservative Christians to get involved in politics. “We must return to the Judeo-Christian, the biblical, the constitutional foundations that this country was built upon,” he said, “otherwise this country will be destroyed.”

The elder Cruz then went on to say that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death could usher in America’s destruction: “This could tilt the balance of the court and could be something that would affect America for the next 30 years. We don’t have 30 years.”

He went on to falsely claim that “no nominee for the Supreme Court has been confirmed in the last year of the election” in over 80 years. (In fact, the last time that happened was in 1988 when Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed.) “The balance of the court cannot be tilted in a lame duck year, it’s just not done.” 

Operation Rescue: 'We Are Just One Obama Appointee Away From A Totalitarian Government'

The radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has joined the many conservative groups urging the Senate to hold the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat open for more than a year in order to prevent President Obama from naming his replacement.

In a press release yesterday, Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman — a leader of Sen. Ted Cruz’s “pro-life” coalition — declared that with the Supreme Court battle, America must choose “fascism of freedom” because the country is “just one Obama appointee away from totalitarian government.”

The group also raised suspicions about the justice’s death, saying that “disturbing conflicting reports have surfaced” regarding the circumstances of his death.

Scalia's death has posed an opportunity for Pres. Barack Obama to appoint a replacement for Scalia in this critical election year that would dramatically reshape the Court in a way that would continue protect abortion while threatening precious American freedoms.

Operation Rescue is urging the Senate to allow the next president to make that appointment.

"With the passing of the esteemed Justice Scalia, America stands at a crossroads. Will she choose the path of fascism or freedom? We are just one Obama appointee away from a totalitarian government. Two years ago, the GOP promised the American people that, if elected, they would thwart Obama's radical leftist agenda. This is the GOP's moment. Will it shine as a light for liberty in this dark moment or will that light be extinguished by political appeasement?" asked Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

Now, disturbing conflicting reports have surfaced concerning Justice Scalia's sudden and unexpected death with no autopsy planned.

Operation Rescue calls for a full inquiry into Scalia's death and respectfully requests that an autopsy be performed in order to put to rest unanswered questions regarding his passing.

Conservative Legal Activist Admits GOP SCOTUS Obstruction Is All About Politics

Within hours of the news breaking of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republican politicians and conservative activists circled the wagons and vowed to block the confirmation of any person President Obama nominates to replace him.

Some have tried to come up with bogus new “rules” about not confirming justices in a presidential election year. Some have tried to claim, as Sen. Marco Rubio did in Saturday’s Republican presidential debate, that more than 10 months before the next election Obama is already a “lame duck” president. Sen. Rand Paul went as far as to say that Obama has a “conflict of interest” in nominating judges who might consider the legality of things the executive branch does.

But some have been less coy about the purely political calculation behind the attempt to block an Obama nominee, including the Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino, who announced in a Newsmax interview yesterday that it would be “political malpractice” for Senate Republicans to allow President Obama to put another justice on the Supreme Court.

In a statement shortly after Scalia’s death was announced, Severino declared that Obama is “the last person” who should be nominating Scalia’s successor because he has “shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws.”

Severino’s group was founded during the George W. Bush administration as the Judicial Confirmation Network, with the stated mission of ensuring “that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote.” After President Obama was elected, the group conveniently changed its name and its mission.

Ted Cruz: Supreme Court Might 'Strike Down The Second Amendment' If Democrats Win In 2016

In an interview last week with conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sen. Ted Cruz discussed the importance of the next president’s Supreme Court nominees, claiming that the U.S. is “one justice away from the Supreme Court striking down the Second Amendment.”

Cruz criticized the current “lawless” and “out-of-control activist court” that is “just one justice away from a five-justice, radical, left-wing majority the likes of which this country has never seen.”

The Texas Republican then warned viewers of a doomsday scenario if a Democratic president nominates new justices to the bench:

We are one justice away from the Supreme Court striking down the Second Amendment, ruling that no individual American has any right whatsoever to keep and bear arms, we are one justice away from that. We are one justice away from the Supreme Court striking down Ten Commandments monuments all over the United States, just like the one we have in front of the Texas State Capitol that I was proud to stand with Greg Abbott, defend before the Supreme Court and win 5-4 upholding it.

We are one justice away from the Supreme Court striking down school choice programs all over the country. We are one justice away from the Supreme Court striking down every restriction on abortion and mandating unlimited abortion-on-demand up until the moment of delivery, partial-birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification whatsoever. We are one justice away from that. We are one justice away from the Supreme Court tearing down veterans’ memorials all over this country if they have any acknowledgment of God and we’re not far away from bringing the chisels out to remove the crosses and Stars of David from the tombstones of our fallen soldiers.

Cruz said that while past Republican presidents failed to nominate “proven conservative” justices, he plans to only nominate firm right-wing judges.

“Every justice I put on the court will be a principled conservative jurist,” he said.

Anti-Choice Groups Are Trying To Claim The Term 'Back Alley' To Oppose Legal Abortion

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law and a key test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of eliminating abortion access by regulating abortion providers out of existence.

Central to the case is the claim that laws like the one in Texas, which could close three quarters of the state’s abortion clinics if it’s fully enacted, impose tough regulations on abortion providers in order to protect the health of the women who take advantage of their services.

Now, in an effort to claim that they are the ones who are really concerned about women’s health, anti-choice groups are appropriating the term “back-alley abortion,” using the phrase that has long described dangerous illegal procedures in the years before Roe to claim that it is in fact legal abortion that forces women into the “back alley.”

In an article for the Federalist yesterday, Americans United for Life (AUL) attorney Mailee Smith wrote that the Texas case has “prompted a discussion about what is more important: ‘access’ to the current back alley of abortion now offered by an industry that puts profits over people, or commonsense health and safety standards the Court has historically supported.”

It’s a line that AUL has been repeating in the past few years, encouraged in part by the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was convicted of several gruesome crimes after the lax enforcement of regulations allowed him to stay in business.

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in 2013 after Gosnell’s conviction, AUL’s president, Chairmaine Yoest, declared, “Gosnell is sadly not an aberration. Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the back alley of abortion in this country and the back alley of abortion in this country is legal abortion.” A 2012 law review article by AUL attorney Clarke Forsythe in favor of clinic regulations was titled “A Road Map Through The Supreme Court’s Back Alley.” A 2013 AUL guide to regulating abortion clinics declared, “abortion clinics across the nation have become the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology.”

Other groups have caught on to the messaging too. Speaking of Gosnell’s conviction in 2013, the Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser claimed that “the result of the current law is that we’re living back-alley abortions right now.” 

In a set of talking points posted on its website in 2014, the National Right to Life Committee recommended countering pro-choice arguments about the risk of back-alley abortions by saying, “The only thing that legalizing abortion did was to give abortionists the ability to hang their shingle on the front door and stop using the back alley!”

Few would disagree that Gosnell — who was convicted of killing a patient and three infants who were born alive at his squalid clinic — was offering the functional equivalent of back-alley abortions. But the anti-choice movement is instead attempting to exploit the Gosnell case to claim that legal abortion is back-alley abortion, and to use it to justify unnecessary regulations meant to cut shut down safe providers.

Abortion rights opponents often attempt to downplay the real danger of illegal abortions women faced before the liberalization of abortion laws and Roe. Although women with money and connections could often obtain a safe hospital abortion (whether or not it was technically legal) in the years leading up to Roe, the burden of unsafe abortion fell disproportionately on poor women and women of color.

Guttmacher reports that although rates of death from unsafe abortion fell as medical care improved on all levels, 200 women died from unsafe abortion in 1965, making up 17 percent of all pregancy-related deaths that year. Even as states began to liberalize their abortion laws, many women without access to safe procedures still obtained illegal abortions.

As a number of commentators pointed out when Gosnell’s crimes came to light, forcing safe clinics to close would only force more women to predatory providers like Gosnell.

From the beginning, anti-choice activists have acknowledged that clinic regulations like those in Texas are meant not to protect women but to challenge legal abortion. In a 2007 memo arguing against “personhood” laws that attempt to ban all abortions in one fell swoop, influential anti-abortion attorney James Bopp listed clinic regulations like Texas’ as one way to “improve the legal situation” of the anti-abortion movement without fully taking on the constitutional right to abortion. In its annual package of model legislation for state legislators, AUL touts clinic-regulation measures as part of the effort to “unravel” Roe and facilitate its “demise.”

Texas’ law, which AUL says it helped write, requires abortion clinics to remodel if they don’t meet the stringent standards of ambulatory surgical clinics, which in general perform more complicated and riskier procedures than abortion. It also mandates that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital, an unnecessary requirement that it is sometimes difficult or impossible for abortion providers to meet. (This is in part because anti-abortion activists pressure hospitals not to offer such admitting privileges, again showing that their goal is closing clinics, not improving safety standards.)

The law behind the Whole Women's Health case isn’t meant to eliminate “back-alley” abortions, as its backers are now claiming. It’s meant to cut off access for the women who can least afford it and to chip away at the legal framework of Roe, which would, ironically, mostly likely lead to more true back-alley abortions. 

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Supreme Court Posts Archive

Nabi Dressler, Friday 06/03/2016, 5:06pm
John Eidsmoe, the prominent Christian Reconstructionist attorney who works for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, joined conservative radio host Jerry Newcombe on his show Thursday to discuss Moore’s stand against the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, which has gotten him suspended from his post. Eidsmoe accused Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg of staging a “political coup” by choosing not to recuse themselves from hearing the Obergefell case and declared that state courts and state legislatures have the "duty... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 06/02/2016, 4:26pm
David Barton, the oft-discredited Religious Right “historian,” Republican political operative and head of a failed Ted Cruz-supporting Super PAC, appeared on the American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues” this morning. Barton’s message mirrored that of other Religious Right figures, like televangelist James Robison and dominionist Lance Wallnau, who are insisting that evangelicals go to the polls and vote for Trump no matter how flawed a person and candidate he might be. A few weeks, ago Barton told Christians that their job was to get more... MORE
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 05/31/2016, 1:36pm
Larry Pratt, the executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, said on his “Gun Owners News Hour” radio program this weekend that if a Democrat wins the White House and the Supreme Court starts issuing decisions in favor of gun regulations, conservatives may turn to the “bullet box” to rectify the situation. Pratt was interviewing Robert Knight, a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union, who warned that “if a liberal Democrat is elected president, then there goes the Supreme Court, it could be two, three, four justices, and I think the Second... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 05/26/2016, 5:34pm
The Republican Party’s faith outreach director, former South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly, says conservative Christians will vote for Donald Trump based on the future of the Supreme Court. The biggest thing on evangelicals’ minds, I think, is the fact that we’re gonna be looking at a Supreme Court that could be vastly different going forward. And electing somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is obviously biased against the things that most evangelicals, Christians believe in, would be disastrous for religious liberty, for property rights, gun rights, religious freedom and... MORE
Ari Rabin-Havt, Wednesday 05/25/2016, 3:06pm
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is the latest Republican Senator to face a spate of terrible poll numbers, in part based on the unprecedented obstruction of Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination. A new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina finds that “Burr's lead is just 3 points at 39% to 36% for [Democratic candidate] Deborah Ross, and 8% for Libertarian Sean Haugh.” Furthermore, “Burr continues to be pretty unpopular with only 28% of voters approving of the job he's doing to 40% who disapprove.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 05/20/2016, 12:08pm
After Donald Trump released a list of 11 people he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court if he were elected president, some conservatives who had been wary of supporting the presumptive GOP nominee began using it as an excuse to rally behind him. But not all of Trump’s conservative critics are convinced that he would actually pick from the judges on his list, many of whom were hand-picked by the conservative Heritage Society. Among the skeptics is Steve Deace, the conservative Iowa talk radio host and vocal Trump critic, who said on his radio program yesterday that he did... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/19/2016, 4:45pm
Yesterday, Breitbart legal editor and former Family Research Council official Ken Klukowski guest-hosted the FRC’s “Washington Watch” radio program, where he interviewed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell about the presidential election and the future of the Supreme Court. Both Perry and Blackwell urged listeners to get behind Donald Trump, saying that while potential Trump nominees to the bench would emulate the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a Democratic president like Hillary Clinton would nominate more people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When... MORE