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Meese Active in Opposition to Sotomayor



By Jerry Markon

Ed Meese is at it again.

The Reagan-era attorney general, beloved by conservatives but long reviled by many liberals, is playing an important behind-the-scenes role in coordinating opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

From his perch at the conservative Heritage Foundation, the 77-year-old Edwin Meese III has been meeting with a network of right-of-center lawyers, buttonholing Republican senators and preaching the same message he’s been delivering since the 1980s: judges should follow the Constitution and not push a liberal agenda from the bench.

“He’s been very influential in his meetings on Capitol Hill and behind-the-scenes working with leading legal lights,’’ said Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network, which has been echoing Meese’s message with regular public blasts against Sotomayor.

“All of us feel like we stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before us, and clearly Meese is one of those giants and a conservative icon,’’ Marx added.

Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal People for the American Way, has a different view of Meese’s enduring influence.

“It’s incredibly telling that the man behind Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia is shaping the current Republican strategy,’’ Baker said. “It’s illustrative of how the GOP has spent the past 25 years: trying to pack the federal judiciary with right wing activist judges.’’

With Obama’s election and Democratic control of Congress, Baker said, “the whole Meese framework is tired, old and discredited.’’

Meese, who was a longtime confidante of President Ronald Reagan, has been battling the political left over judicial philosophy ever since his controversial 1985 speech to the American Bar Association.

Still new as attorney general, he blasted what he saw as judicial activism by the Supreme Court and said the “original intention” of the Constitution and statutes should be the “only reliable guide” for judges.

The remarks drew virtually unprecedented criticism from two Supreme Court justices – including John Paul Stevens, still a leading liberal justice – and outraged the left, even as they galvanized conservatives.

Liberal groups raised millions of dollars merely by invoking Meese’s name, and as recently as 2006, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was citing the specter of Meese to rally opposition to Samuel A. Alito, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee.

The former attorney general began meeting with Republican senators and sending them letters about a potential Supreme Court vacancy months before Sotomayor was even nominated, said a Republican Senate source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were private. Those sessions have continued in recent weeks.

“He had the instincts that in this environment, with the Republicans a small minority, and a currently popular Democratic President, we needed a real focus on judicial selection,’’ the source said. “Some folks come out of the woodwork when there is a Supreme Court vacancy and grab their 15 minutes of fame. Ed isn’t like that, never has been, and that’s why he is of such value.’’

Meese, who advised the Bush White House on Supreme Court nominations, has emerged publicly with brief statements that helped craft the conservative message. As soon as Justice David H. Souter’s pending retirement was announced, he called on Obama to nominate “a justice who will fully obey his or her oath to preserve the Constitution, someone with a proven fidelity to the original meaning of the Constitution and laws as written.’’

Sotomayor’s nomination prompted Meese to immediately urge Senators to ensure that “Judge Sotomayor would not use her seat on the Supreme Court to advance liberal policy preferences, rather than applying the Constitution as it is written.’’

Jim Weidman, a spokesman for the Heritage Foundation -- where Meese became the first Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in 1988 and still chairs the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies – said the former attorney general was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

“This is a crucial moment in the time of the Supreme Court, and he’s still very vigorous and engaged on this,’’ Weidman said. “He’s definitely in there swinging.’’

By Paul Volpe  |  June 18, 2009; 12:19 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Comments

Meese is a pig. Sounds a good today as it did in the 80s.

Posted by: neithernor | June 18, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

um... "as good" ... duh

Posted by: neithernor | June 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Meese is still around? And people are listening to him? Original intent of the Framers sounds great, though when the Constitution was written, slavery was legal and women could not vote. The Supreme Court justices who decided the Dred Scott and Plessey v. Ferguson cases felt they were sticking to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Wonder what Meese thought about Brown v. Board of Education. If justices now said that same sex marriages were unconsitutional, I wonder if any conservatives would accuse them of being too activist.

Posted by: Sutter | June 18, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Republicans think Judges should follow the Constitution and not push a liberal agenda from the bench.It's OK for the Republicans to put conservatives Judges on the supreme court(to push a conservative agenda) but not OK for Democrates to put Liberal Judges on the Court!Give me a break!The Rep. would like for all the Judges to be Consertive,it's not going to happen.You Republicans Lost the 2008 elections, get a life!!!

Posted by: Ray68 | June 18, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Meese the guy who once famously said that "if you're not guilty, you wouldn't be a suspect?" Yeah, this is guy who really has a handle on the original intent of the Constitution.

He should be consigned to the ashcan of history, along with the rest of the discreditied minions of the Reagan years.

Posted by: topperale | June 18, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

According to a prominent NY Times article,

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/06/opinion/06gewirtz.html

and many other accredited articles,
Clarence Thomas is the biggest activist out there. You know you can put lipstick on a Meese and dress it up, but at the end of the day, it's still a Meese.

Posted by: mrcoldmiser | June 18, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

“Some folks come out of the woodwork when there is a Supreme Court vacancy and grab their 15 minutes of fame. Ed isn’t like that, never has been, and that’s why he is of such value.’’

Oh really?

Posted by: HaymarketObserver | June 18, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

1st, I regret personal attacks, as exhibited by some of the letters above.

2nd, Judge Meese is a constitutional originalist. This description means that if the Court considers that the Constitution does not consider a particular subject, the Court should defer to Congress where the will of the people can be expressed in a poitical process. It doesn't mean that Mr. Meese is a bad person, only that he has a different opinion than some of the letter writers in this blog.

3rd, I am opposed to Judge Sotomayor's nomination (not Judge Sotomayor, only her nomination)because she is a member of La Raza (the Race), a Mexican-American, racist bullying association akin to the Amercan Nazi party. In my opinion, this should exclude the good judge from any judicial position in America, let alone a position on the Supremes.

4th, If Judge Sotomayor should read this letter, greetings from a graduate of Leake and Watts in Yonkers and P.S.95 in the Bronx.

Posted by: iamafg | June 18, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

If Meese doesn't like her, she can't be all that bad. He was perhaps the ugliest figure of the Reagan administration, and he had a lot of competition.

And, BTW, someone who seriously complains about the La Raza business is only announcing to the world that he is a gullible tool of Rush and Newt. I'd tell him to do his own research on it, but I know that's asking too much of a dittohead.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | June 18, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The impact of mis-guided and ill-considered Reagan-era economic and social policy agendas is just being realized.

Meese and all his Heritage Foundation alcolytes would readily have Americans of African descent counted as three-fifths of a person and rescind the voting rights of women and non-land-owning white men if their literal interpretation of the constitution were adopted. Just how more idiotic can a position be? Sheesh!!!!.....Why don't these neanderthal anachronisms just go away?

Posted by: dipazzo | June 18, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cow! Were did they find that fool! This is so very sad. How can they be called the opposition?

Posted by: Woodstocknative | June 18, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

thought he was dead.how old is this guy?

Posted by: donaldtucker | June 18, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

thought he was dead.how old is this guy?77 seems youngto me thought he was 87.

Posted by: donaldtucker | June 18, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"Applying the constitution as written" - oh please, that is about the most hypocritical thing I've ever heard. Of course Democrats will want a judge who interprets the law in a way to appeals to their political ideologies -- and Republicans do precisely the same. Think Roe v. Wade, the law of the land regardless of how you personally feel about it. And they have been doing what? Everything in their power to stack the bench with activist judges who might one day overturn this law. Can we get any more basic here, people?

Posted by: newporter | June 18, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Meese kind of a Karl Rove with some legal training? Same general approach.

Posted by: frodot | June 18, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

1...Judge Sonja the way Miguel was judged.

2...Anyone who has an opinion please excuse him/herself.

3...Check the court's decisions; Judge Stevens goes back to the turn of the 19th century.

4...Was Judge Souter a nerd or another Abe Lincoln?

5...Will Pres O next appoint Kagan then Holder or the reverse?

Posted by: danshanteal | June 18, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

meese is all for activist judges like scalia and roberts.
He just doesn't like the ones that put the citizens in front of business

Posted by: newagent99 | June 18, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that every conservative ideologue who has an opinion gets an article in WAPO. How about seeking out some moderates who favor Sotomayor?

Posted by: cdierd1944 | June 18, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Since Sotomayor followed precident in Ricci vs. DeStefano, I guess that mean that Meese approves of her. After all, if she had sided with Ricci then Sotomayor would have been rewriting the law and acting like an activist judge.

Posted by: alysheba_3 | June 18, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Ed Meese? The same Ed Meese who "Didn't WANT to have a conflict of interest" while Attorney General, but since that would have meant not making a ton of money in using his position for profit in California, and as a result was essentially impeached, convicted, but not sentenced because of the rational above? Another of Nixon's crooks.

Do convicted crooks have valid opinions on jurists who haven't been convicted?

WHY do the Republicans insist on bringing back such palookas when it would be the merciful thing to let them rusticate and decompose in peace.

Like George. Now that he hasn't all those nasty distractions you might think (he won't) that he ought to go back to Crawford and really work on all that brush he liked to cut.

Can the RNC define credibility?

Posted by: ceflynline | June 18, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Yup, Republicans love to hold to the constitution, if you define the constitution as the 2nd amendment. These are the same jerks who filleted the bill of rights for the last 8 years. The same "no activist judges" camp that scored the height of political activism: Bush V Gore.

These discredited shriveled up old men need to crawl back in their holes and die.

Posted by: omarsidd | June 18, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Three memories of Ed Meese at the Justice Department:

1) During the Iran Contra scandal investigation, he either "couldn't recall" or he wasn't acting as the Attorney General -- those duties were temporarily suspended on a whim. No, whenever he felt like it, he shed those duties so he could be President Reagan's "friend or counselor".

2) When he took office as AG, he had statues of bare-breasted goddesses of Liberty and Justice draped -- otherwise these statues -- in place since the 1930s -- were pornographic.

3) When a bike messenger showed up to deliver a package at DOJ and he was wearing a "Meese is a Pig" t-shirt, the messenger was arrested.

And we should listen to what this character thinks?

Posted by: fakevirginia | June 19, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Experts still agree. Messe is STILL a PIG.

Posted by: VeloStrummer | June 19, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought John Ashcroft was the one who had the bare-breasted goddesses of Liberty and Justice draped, in 2001. Not Ed Meese. I think fakevirginia has gotten mixed up on that one. To be honest, I also don't really care about interior decorating disputes.

That being said, I wonder how Mr. Meese feels about his friend Ken Starr's decision to support the President's chosen nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. You'd think that deference to the executive on this matter would be the conventional and conservative perspective, but it's become rare. Good for Ken Starr,

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | June 19, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe it. I thought that this discredited SOB was dead. The Repugnicans are such scum_bags.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 19, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

1st, I regret personal attacks, as exhibited by some of the letters above.

2nd, Judge Meese is a constitutional originalist. This description means that if the Court considers that the Constitution does not consider a particular subject, the Court should defer to Congress where the will of the people can be expressed in a poitical process. It doesn't mean that Mr. Meese is a bad person, only that he has a different opinion than some of the letter writers in this blog.

3rd, I am opposed to Judge Sotomayor's nomination (not Judge Sotomayor, only her nomination)because she is a member of La Raza (the Race), a Mexican-American, racist bullying association akin to the Amercan Nazi party. In my opinion, this should exclude the good judge from any judicial position in America, let alone a position on the Supremes.

4th, If Judge Sotomayor should read this letter, greetings from a graduate of Leake and Watts in Yonkers and P.S.95 in the Bronx.


Posted by: iamafg | June 18, 2009 2:02 PM


Ed Meese is not now and never has been a judge, thank goodness. He is, at best, a mediocre legal mind, he is always pushing a very conservative political agenda, and his legal opinions have generally been of questionable quality.

Comparing La Raza to the American Nazi party is beyond ludicrous.

Posted by: luridone | June 19, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I respect the Constitution and all, but it was written by men who never saw a car, automobile, computer, National League Baseball,global marketing,-- in fact, in their day, flogging, lynching, debtor's prison, rum running (Alexander Hamilton's form of drug trade), pistol duels, wife-beating, etc. were practiced by many upstanding citizens, including the (white) men who wrote it. Wonder what they would say about waterboarding, skirt-chasing politicians, the influence of lobbyists, greed, Falwell, Fox, and Limbaugh and self-righteous warmongers? If the Constitution remains a static document frozen in time, then it is irrelevant to the problems of the 21st century. On the other hand, if it is a principled document that can be used for guidance and ground rules, it is still a useful document. It is unrealistic to think you can use it without some form of "activism" or "interpretation" Otherwise, any sap can look at it, tell you what the words say and pass judgement. And all the laws in our legalistic society would be irrelevant.

Posted by: mggabriel | June 19, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

In his Gettysburg address another republican, Abraham Lincoln, fairly disagreed with the ultra-conservative and historically innacurate view of the Constituion espoused by Meese. And in his second inanaugeral. Both of these treatises are on the walls of his memorial at the end of the Washington Mall. Meese and his ilke only earn a footnote in history for trying to prevent our democracy from evolving into a "more perfect union." Shame on them.

Posted by: DCPeterDC | June 19, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

MEESE? The best they could do, was Meese? I am actually starting to feel sorry for the Right! They are pathetic!

Posted by: GTFOOH | June 21, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

MEESE MAY HAVE A POINT. THERE ARE NOMINEES THAT ARE NOT JUDGES AND DO NOT KISS THE BEHINDS OF DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN.

I DO RECALL THAT THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MADE COMMENT OF A UNKNOWN CANDIDATE FOR THE COURT AT THE GRADUATION AT KAPLAN UNIVERSITY ON 17MAY, 2009.

THIS PERSON WAS JUST MADE A US MARSHAL AND US ATTORNEY. WAS THE ONE THAT GOT OSAMA BIN LADEN ELIMINATED AND GOT MORE BANKER,S WALL STREET EXECS ETC.. BUSTED THAN ANYONE IN HISTORY, AND THIS WAS BEFORE HE BECAME LAW ENFORCEMENT AND A US ATTORNEY BY ACT OF CONGRESS.

THIS PERSON SOLVED THE ANSWER TO GETTING THE ECONOMY FROM SELF DESTRUCTION, USED HIS OWN SETTLEMENT ACCOUNT TO HELP ALL STATES, OPPOSE SAME SEX MARRIAGE, MAKE OBAMA LIFE HELL BEFORE THE US SUPREME COURT, HIS ADVOCATE.
SOLVED THE HEALTH CARE FUNDING AND HOW TO GET THE COURT TO HELP OUT IN GETTING IT CORRECTED.
SOLVED FUNDING OF SOCIAL SECURITY-MEDICARE AND POTHER PROBLEMS USING HIS OWN FUNDS TO PAY FOR IT ALL.
HIS IS NO ADVOCATE OR MAKES LAWS FROM THE BENCH, BUT READS THE LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION AND APPLIES IT AS HE IS FORCED TO CONFRONT OBAMA AND THE CROOKED CONGRESS ETC.. ON A DAILY BASIS.
HE HAS NAILED THREE US ATTORNEY, GOT CLINTON DISBARRED, NAILED A SERIAL KILLER FROM A VA HOSPITAL, TOOK ON THE IRS AND MADE THEM BEG FOR MERCY. LOVES TO TAKE OF THE US ATTORNEY HOLDER ON ANYTIME HE CAN AND TREAT HIM LIKE A REDHEADED STEP CHILD BEFORE THE COURT.
WILL TELL THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO KISS HIS BEHIND IF THE DEFENDANT TRIES AND VIOLATE THE AGREEMENT OF THE 2004. OR PLAY HIS SLICK TALK AND GET THE PLAINTIFF TO BUY HIS WORTHLESS WOLF TICKETS.
IT IS NOT SO MUCH AS SMARTS, AS TO BE ABLE TO STAND UP TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND MAKE HIM OBEY THE LAWS OF THE NATION AND THE CONSTITUTION AND BE WILLING TO BREAK IT OFF IN HIM IF HE THINKS OR ACTS OTHERWISE.
THE PEOPLE GIVE THE POWER TO THE GOVERNMENT
NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

Posted by: WALDENSR | June 22, 2009 4:15 AM | Report abuse

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