Conservatives Take Fight Against Potential Court Nominees to the Web
Updated 3:05 p.m.
By Jerry Markon
Conservative groups launched a pre-emptive assault today on their three perceived front-runners for President Obama's Supreme Court nomination, attacking them as activists who are pushing a liberal agenda for the court.
The barrage against Solicitor General Elena Kagan and U.S. Court of Appeals judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane P. Wood came on a new website featuring ominous music set against pictures of the Supreme Court building's majestic columns.
The three "are all uniformly left-wing ideologues who...will try to do exactly what the American people don't want: impose their feelings and left-wing political agendas through the courts," Wendy Long, chief counsel for the Manassas-based Judicial Confirmation Network, said in a conference call this morning promoting the website. The call featured a variety of conservative groups that are gearing up to oppose Obama's nominee.
Sources have said that Kagan, Sotomayor and Wood are among the front-runners to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter, though no clear likely nominee has emerged. The White House declined to comment officially on the website and videos.
But an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had this to say: "The spots make clear that some groups are bent on fighting before they even know who the nominee will be, while the president is trying to get beyond that reflexive approach of the past and to put the confirmation wars behind us."
The website, www.obamasfrontrunners.com, is part of an emerging strategy for conservative groups trying to fight a pending nominee they acknowledge they have little chance of defeating. But interest groups have long used Supreme Court nominations as a rallying point and fundraising tool, a pattern that continued today. The website has a plea for donations at the top, just above a headline asking viewers to vote on which of the three potential nominees is "the worst liberal judicial activist."
"We need to do this because the White House really has the bully pulpit,'' Long said. "They have control of Congress, control of the Senate Judiciary Committee and many outlets are friendly to them in the mainstream media. The American people, if we don't do things like this, are really only getting half the story.''
The website features three short videos attacking opinions written by Sotomayor and Wood and calling Kagan a judicial radical who is outside of mainstream American legal thought. Kagan has been targeted by conservatives, in part because as dean of Harvard Law School she called the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay service members "both unwise and unjust" and sought to ban military recruiters from campus.
Each video ends with an announcer intoning: "America deserves better."
Posted at 1:22 PM ET on May 18, 2009
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