Conservatives divided on tactics in opposing Sotomayor

Rick Moran
Jeanne Cummings of Politico is making too much of a big deal over the fact that opposition to President Obama's pick to replace the retiring David Souter in the Supreme Court has not gelled as of yet. But her column does raise the salient issues that will be debated over the next couple of months, until Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings get underway.

To filibuster or not? Attack her liberal record and statements away from the bench or perhaps concentrate on specific decisions like Ricci or Didden?

No doubt a combination of the latter will be visible. But the question of whether to filibuster the nomination by trying to coax a couple of Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with the GOP (assuming the party can keep their caucus on the same page) will probably divide the opposition, as the article makes pretty clear:

 

“The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one,” said Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a proponent of a filibuster. “If they don’t, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away,” he added.

 

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, an anti-abortion rights activist, is urging members to block a Senate vote on Sotomayor.

 

“Do GOP leaders have the courage and integrity to filibuster an activist, pro-Roe[v. Wade] judge?” asked Terry, who argued that Democrats — including then-Sen. Obama — opened the door to such action after threatening to filibuster Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005.

 

In addition to pressuring Republicans, Terry is urging supporters to send e-mails to Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), both of whom oppose abortion rights.

 

Meanwhile, the Judicial Confirmation Network, an umbrella group representing more than 60 organizations, is trying to build a more traditional case against Sotomayor by culling through her prior statements and cases and questioning her qualifications.

 

“We’ve always said a filibuster is not appropriate for judicial nominees,” said Wendy Long, counsel to the network. “A filibuster is a legislative tool designed to extract compromises. A judicial nominee is a person. You can’t take the arm or leg of a nominee. 

What this really boils down to is how much political courage will Republican senators demonstrate both at her confirmation hearings and on the floor of the senate?

In other words, are the principles involved in this nomination fight so important that a Republican senator should be prepared to go down to defeat rather than act pragmatically and tone down their opposition and perhaps even vote to confirm?

I don't see any way around it. There is little doubt that Sonia Sotomayor, while barely qualified to sit on the high court based solely on her experience as a 10 year jurist on the Second Circuit, would nevertheless be a disaster for America. Given that fact, and given that the principles that conservatives should stand for are at risk of being obliterated by justices like Sotomayor, there should be no other option for a principled politician than to stand up and be counted as a proponent of equality of opportunity, fair and impartial justice, and the rule of law. 

For politicians, there's a time for pragmatism and a time where standing for one's principles cannot be avoided. This is the a time for the latter. No matter the personal or political cost. No matter what their constituents might want them to do. This is a "Profiles in Courage" moment for those senators who claim to be proud consrevatives around election time. They know what must be done. They know the right thing to do.

The Republican party must speak with one voice on this nomination, shouting from the top of the Capitol dome that justices like Sotomayor who believe the law should be twisted so that the proper "outcome" is achieved have no place on the Supreme Court. At risk, gun rights, property rights, impartiality, and equal justice under the law for all.

But will they? They might if enough of us hold their feet to the fire and remind them that even going down to defeat is honorable if one is standing on their principles while doing so. 

Whatever tactics the opposition decides upon, there must be a clear message sent to the American people that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is a bridge too far and is antithetical to the founding principles of the republic. On that, Republican senators should reflect before genuflecting to Obama's crass identity politics and cynical use of the race card to pander to a minority constituency.

 



Jeanne Cummings of Politico is making too much of a big deal over the fact that opposition to President Obama's pick to replace the retiring David Souter in the Supreme Court has not gelled as of yet. But her column does raise the salient issues that will be debated over the next couple of months, until Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings get underway.

To filibuster or not? Attack her liberal record and statements away from the bench or perhaps concentrate on specific decisions like Ricci or Didden?

No doubt a combination of the latter will be visible. But the question of whether to filibuster the nomination by trying to coax a couple of Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with the GOP (assuming the party can keep their caucus on the same page) will probably divide the opposition, as the article makes pretty clear:

 

“The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one,” said Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a proponent of a filibuster. “If they don’t, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away,” he added.

 

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, an anti-abortion rights activist, is urging members to block a Senate vote on Sotomayor.

 

“Do GOP leaders have the courage and integrity to filibuster an activist, pro-Roe[v. Wade] judge?” asked Terry, who argued that Democrats — including then-Sen. Obama — opened the door to such action after threatening to filibuster Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005.

 

In addition to pressuring Republicans, Terry is urging supporters to send e-mails to Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), both of whom oppose abortion rights.

 

Meanwhile, the Judicial Confirmation Network, an umbrella group representing more than 60 organizations, is trying to build a more traditional case against Sotomayor by culling through her prior statements and cases and questioning her qualifications.

 

“We’ve always said a filibuster is not appropriate for judicial nominees,” said Wendy Long, counsel to the network. “A filibuster is a legislative tool designed to extract compromises. A judicial nominee is a person. You can’t take the arm or leg of a nominee. 

What this really boils down to is how much political courage will Republican senators demonstrate both at her confirmation hearings and on the floor of the senate?

In other words, are the principles involved in this nomination fight so important that a Republican senator should be prepared to go down to defeat rather than act pragmatically and tone down their opposition and perhaps even vote to confirm?

I don't see any way around it. There is little doubt that Sonia Sotomayor, while barely qualified to sit on the high court based solely on her experience as a 10 year jurist on the Second Circuit, would nevertheless be a disaster for America. Given that fact, and given that the principles that conservatives should stand for are at risk of being obliterated by justices like Sotomayor, there should be no other option for a principled politician than to stand up and be counted as a proponent of equality of opportunity, fair and impartial justice, and the rule of law. 

For politicians, there's a time for pragmatism and a time where standing for one's principles cannot be avoided. This is the a time for the latter. No matter the personal or political cost. No matter what their constituents might want them to do. This is a "Profiles in Courage" moment for those senators who claim to be proud consrevatives around election time. They know what must be done. They know the right thing to do.

The Republican party must speak with one voice on this nomination, shouting from the top of the Capitol dome that justices like Sotomayor who believe the law should be twisted so that the proper "outcome" is achieved have no place on the Supreme Court. At risk, gun rights, property rights, impartiality, and equal justice under the law for all.

But will they? They might if enough of us hold their feet to the fire and remind them that even going down to defeat is honorable if one is standing on their principles while doing so. 

Whatever tactics the opposition decides upon, there must be a clear message sent to the American people that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is a bridge too far and is antithetical to the founding principles of the republic. On that, Republican senators should reflect before genuflecting to Obama's crass identity politics and cynical use of the race card to pander to a minority constituency.