I’ve been wondering why the Right’s public response to the news that David Souter will be retiring has been almost non-existent. The news broke last night and yet very few right-wing groups have even bothered to so much as issue a statement – but, it turns out, that was probably because they have been busy plotting and coordinating their strategy:
Conservative groups worked into the night Thursday after news broke of Justice David Souter’s retirement to arrange a conference call early Friday morning to talk strategy with representatives of more than 60 groups.
Leaders on the call, such as Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, told colleagues that one of their first challenges is convincing activists there is a fight to be had.
“One thing to keep in mind is that the left and media will say this doesn’t really matter — Obama will just replace a liberal with a liberal,” Long said. “It’s a conservative court. We need to push back against that immediately.”
Curt Levy, also of the Judicial Confirmation Network, argued to the nearly 200 activists on the conference call that this can “be a winning issue” for conservatives if they focus on what he called the “right issues” such as same sex marriage, death penalty and the Second Amendment — issues that can split Democrats.
“If [President Obama] was to nominate somebody who was anti-death penalty, pro-gay marriage, you know – took a very extreme view on the separation of church and state, etc, or against any restriction on partial birth abortion… I think this could really be a 70-30 type issue for the Republican Party.” said Levy, meaning it would have 70 percent support from Republicans.
Conservative activists also made it clear that they’re concerned about whether Republican senators have the stomach for this fight, since they know going in that Democrats have a nearly filibuster proof majority.
“We’ve really got to make it clear that we have certain expectations for Republican senators,” Levy said, “Including the fact that they study the nominee and not run to the podium to endorse the nominee whoever it is.”
Another member of the Judicial Confirmation Network, Gary Marx, said he has the same concerns.
“We need to really be focused on putting wind in the sails of these Republican senators at this stage of the battle,” said Marx.
The Hill has a similar article that quotes Kay Daly of the Coalition for a Fair Judicairy, of all people, and treats her organization as if it is actually legitimate:
Groups like the American Center for Law & Justice, the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary and the Committee for Justice will all prepare background research on potential nominees, setting up the eventual, inevitable attacks on the nominee as a left-wing extremist.
Though the new nominee is still unnamed, several top Republican operatives are already sending background documents to reporters, questioning oft-mentioned candidates’ fitness for the highest court in the nation.
“Part of our strategy was already done,” said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice. “We have all our research memos done on all the top people.”
Early front-runners for the bogeyman nod have cropped up: Darling mentioned Yale University Law School Dean Harold Koh, whom he called “very extreme.” Sekulow specifically called out 2nd Circuit Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, an early favorite for the nod, as “to the left of David Souter.”
“This is not my ideal situation,” said Kay Daly, president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. “Obama could conceivably put a justice onto the bench that literally would make Souter look like [Associate Justice Antonin] Scalia.”
I just wrote a post about Daly and her Coalition for a Fair Judiciary a few weeks ago, noting that she and her “organization” had been utterly non-existent for more than two years until she suddenly popped up last month, after which she immediately went silent once again:
Daly’s tagline says that she is “president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary,” which, while true, is something of a truism considering that CFJ’s staff has always consisted solely of Daly.
And, of course, her exhortations and claims to represent grassroots activists might carry more weight if she hadn’t been completely AWOL for the last several years.
A quick look at her website reveals that the organization has not issued a press release since November 2006, nor has any of its data on judicial confirmations been updated since the 109th Congress, while it’s “Judicial Appointments Status Report” is current as of 10/18/2006. In fact, everything on its website is at least two years out of date. Even Daly’s blog goes dormant for months at a time, with her last post having gone up back in October until she returned today to let everyone know that she had a new piece in Human Events.
As I said then, “like cicadas, these right-wing groups emerge, make a loud racket for a short period of time and then all but disappear, only to re-emerge down the road and start the whole process over again.”
I, for one, genuinely hope that the Right puts Daly and her “organization” in charge preparing background on potential Obama nominees because, given her track record, she’ll probably get around to releasing it some time in 2011.
For those unfamiliar with Daly, she also just so happens to be the one responsible for producing the infamous ads from Vernon Robinson back in 2006: