The Right Tests Its Strength in Targeting DOJ Nominees

Earlier this week, we noted how, after eight years of claiming that the Senate’s role was to rubber stamp the President’s nominees, a gaggle of Religious Right activists had suddenly discovered the importance of checks and balances and the chance to provide an opportunity for “serious deliberation” on potential appointees … mainly because they didn’t like some of President Obama’s choices to serve in the Justice Department.

A lot of this initial opposition was driven by the right-wing Catholic group Fidelis, which has been targeting David Ogden with press releases and reports and the Family Research Council, which has been targeting him as a man who “has built a career on representing views and companies that most Americans find repulsive.”

And now it looks like the fight against Ogden, Dawn Johnsen, whom the Right hates because she worked at NARAL, and Thomas Perrelli, whom they hate for representing Terry Schiavo’s husband, has become the first full-fledged test of the Religious Right’s influence under the new president:

Christian conservatives are challenging President Barack Obama’s picks for top Justice Department positions, charging that past clients like Playboy taint their resumes.

The criticism comes ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Thursday for David Ogden, Obama’s pick for deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at the Justice Department.

The challenge to Obama’s Justice picks come as conservative evangelicals seek to limit the power of the new Democratic administration and maintain their own within the Republican Party.

Some Republicans believe a tight embrace of social conservative values turns off independents and moderates, but many Christian right leaders resist compromise and contend that, if anything, the GOP has strayed too far from its principles.

For it’s part, the Right is throwing all of its standard accusations at the nominees: 

“Ogden has been an activist in the support of a right to pornography, a right of abortion and the rights of homosexuals,” said Patrick Trueman, a former Justice Department official during the first Bush presidency who is now in private practice.

“It isn’t so much that he’s represented pornographers or that he’s been a porn attorney, but it’s his world view, and his world view reflects President Obama’s world view,” said Trueman, echoing criticism from conservative activist groups like the American Family Association and Focus on the Family.

Tom Minnery, a vice president at Focus on the Family, charges that through the nominations, the new Democratic administration is not depoliticizing, but re-politicizing the Justice Department.

“They take our breath away the more we learn about these people,” said Minnery. “This is left-wing politicization of the Justice Department. This is not a Justice Department that looks like America.”

As a side note, Focus on the Family has an article up opposing these nominees on its CitizenLink website that carries this title: “Obama’s Judicial Nominees Stand on Anti-Family Principles

Memo to Focus: people nominated to work in the Justice Department are not “judicial nominees” – people nominated to be judges are.