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Pressure Groups Begin to Weigh In

Updated 2:26 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
In the first signs of what is sure to be an avalanche of lobbying to come, advocacy groups today began the process of arguing for and against certain Supreme Court candidates, or categories of candidates.

Some of the first to weigh in were players in 2008 presidential campaign dust-ups. Others included long-time advocates for liberal causes, such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Alliance for Justice.

The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women's group founded during the heady days of the 2008 presidential race, called on President Obama to fill the soon to be vacant seat "with a qualified woman."

"Women's experiences, expectations, and lives are sufficiently different from men's that men can not represent women no matter how sympathetic they may be," said Nancy Hopkins, MIT biology professor and New Agenda co-founder, in a statement. "Women are best represented by women. The fact that only one of nine Supreme Court Justices is a woman is an enormous injustice to the women of the United States. We expect -- we demand -- that President Obama begin to correct this injustice."

New Agenda's list of "exemplar candidates for the Supreme Court seat" includes: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; Kathleen Sullivan, dean of the Stanford Law School; Judge Diane Pamela Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears; Judge Kimberly McLane Wardlaw, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Sandra Lea Lynch, chief judge of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan; Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Stanford University Law Professor Pamela S. Karlan.

Of those names, three frequently mentioned as leading candidates are already drawing fire from the right -- and from a group that intimated, in an Oct. 2008 television ad, that Obama might appoint someone like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the court.

Wendy Long, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network released a memo objecting that "The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court. Obama could make it even more of a far-left judicial activist court, for a long time to come, if he appoints radicals like Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan."

"A new Justice in this mold would just entrench a bad majority for a long time," she continued.

In particular, she objected to the idea of a judge who might rule based on "her own 'deepest values' and what's in her own 'heart' -- instead of what is in the Constitution and laws" and told the president that Americans "did not elect him because they share his views on judges. By a margin of more and 3 to 1, Americans want Supreme Court Justices who will practice judicial restraint and follow the law, not jurists who will indulge their own personal views and experiences in deciding cases."

Such objections are sure to be just the tip of the iceberg as conservatives seek to influence the process in an environment where Democrats will hold a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued a statement that avoided mentioning any specific names and argued for adding another supporter of "the constitutional right to privacy as reflected in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision" to the court.

Calling the court in "a tenuous position" and "hostile to a woman's right to choose," thanks to the addition of President Bush's appointees, Keenan said "it will be critical for President Obama to nominate -- and for the U.S. Senate to confirm -- a successor who will uphold American liberties, like those set forth in Roe, that respect individual freedom and prevent politicians from interfering in our most personal, private decisions."

"Without a doubt, opponents of women's freedom and privacy will use a vacancy on the Court as an opportunity to further their attacks on nominees who have taken pro-choice positions. America's pro-choice majority will fight back," she said.

With Souter's retirement, Alliance for Justice president Nan Aron said, "The president can look to a broad array of legal talent to select a nominee who not only has an excellent record in the law, but also a respect for core constitutional values and a commitment to equal justice for all not just a few."

The Alliance is an association of environmental, civil rights, mental health, women's, children's, and consumer advocacy organizations, and was founded in 1979.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 1, 2009; 1:08 PM ET
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What makes you think that Miers, as the first woman to head the State Bar of Texas and White House Counsel, was not "qualified"? The ABA gave her a rating of "qualified". She also served as chair of the Board of Editors for the American Bar Association Journal and as the chair of the ABA's "Commission on Multi-Jurisdictional Practice". She was the first female lawyer hired by the Dallas law firm of Locke, Liddell & Sapp and later became its president. When the merger that created Locke, Liddell & Sapp took place in 1999, she became the co-managing partner of a legal business with more than 400 lawyers.

Posted by: JakeD | May 4, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Thomas and Scalia would’ve probably agreed with the Dredd Scott and Plessy decisions if they had a chance to vote on it.

Obama should appoint a very young (not older than 55) and very liberal jurist (as far on the left as Scalia and Thomas are on the right). He’s got the votes and political capital to do it.

Posted by: sgtpepper23 | May 2, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

linda_521, you rock.

Posted by: nodebris | May 2, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse


Read it again; she said qualified women.

Posted by: linda_521 | May 1, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Wendy Long, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network released a memo objecting that "The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court." What planet is she on?

Every day proves Republicans even more out of touch than the day before. It is as if their electoral defeat has driven them completely mad.

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 1, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

To borrow from the Dead Milkmen, we need a left handed lesbian albino midget eskimo. Nothing else will suffice.

Posted by: je121819 | May 1, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The link to this column says "44: Groups Weigh In." I think the colon shouldn't be there.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | May 1, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"I tell you, you will not depart here, till you have paid the very last penny".

Posted by: edtroyhampton | May 1, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Think young....we need a Justice who is about 45-50 years old.

My personal preference is that we get more jurists with some elective office credentials. O'Connor was the last one and we've been seriously short on a Court that understands the national polity and the concept of governance since the 1970s

Posted by: kmwray | May 1, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's remember that if men gave birth, abortion would not only be legal but 100% paid by all insurance companies!

Posted by: rabnpa | May 1, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

remember, we must do this right.
after all, supreme court does elect the president ya know!!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 1, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse


Keep in mind that Bush TRIED to get a woman onto the Supreme Court (Harriet Miers). So, it's not his fault per se.

Posted by: JakeD | May 1, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

make sure they have all paid their taxes

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 1, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Its awfully interesting to see the pressure groups weigh in at this time. Ready to crack the 'whip' on President Obama.
When President Bush(43) did not replace Sandra O'Connor with a female, I was waiting to see a political storm -- nothing happened. She was replaced by a man and the Court continued its business as usaul with one woman as 'window dressing.'

That too was an insult to the many qualified women who could have been chosen to fill that seat. However,the idea thrown out by some women that " women are best represented by women" is not a truism.

Sadly, it took me years living in a female body and watching some women 'get power' to see that most want the power men have, not to use it to lift up other women up but to show other men how powerful they can become-- and just for the sake of it.
Some are more rigid, rude, inconsiderate, power hungry and never look back on the 'ladder' on which they climbed.

Would love to see another woman appointed to the court, but if the President cannot find one that brings his 'values' wont be awfully disappointed. A man at times does a much better job than some women.

Posted by: Victoria5 | May 1, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Whoever this right-wing group opposes, I support. I think Sotomayor, Wood and Kagan would be great. Younger and healthier is better!

Posted by: ElrodinTennessee | May 1, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

A Huge HUUUUUUH? What alternate universe are these clueless people living in?

"The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court..."

Expect the usual whining from the right, and concern trolling from the press about "not caving to left wing activists!" and picking a moderate instead of a Liberal...

Yeah, like Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and all them other "librul activist judges" hey?

I hope Obama has the guts to pick someone strong, knowledgable and skillful enough to counter these right wing troll Suppies...he's got the votes to do it without any Republican support at all!

Posted by: wagonjak1 | May 1, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen Sullivan writes a fine casebook

Posted by: shsths99 | May 1, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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