Almost immediately after the news broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month, Republican senators started vowing to block the nomination of whomever President Obama appoints to succeed the conservative jurist. They were egged on in this kneejerk obstructionism by outside conservative groups who quickly circled the wagons in an effort to shut down any Supreme Court confirmation process.
Now, a few key conservative groups are leading the effort to pressure Republican senators to stay in line and to make it politically difficult for vulnerable Democrats to cooperate in a confirmation process. These groups have unified around a message that “the American people should decide” who the next Supreme Court justice is by waiting until the next president can nominate him or her — never mind that Americans did decide who they wanted picking Supreme Court justices when they reelected Obama in 2012.
This “let the people decide” message belies the true goals of the groups pushing it — not some idealistic belief in good governance, but an effort to shape a Supreme Court that favors business interests at the expense of workers and consumers and that helps to turn back the clock on women, LGBT people and religious minorities.
A new report from People For the American Way looks at four of the conservative groups driving this strategy, outlining their history and their goals for the federal judiciary. It includes:
- The Judicial Crisis Network was founded during the George W. Bush administration as the Judicial Confirmation Network with the goal of pushing through the nominations and confirmations of far-right judges to the federal bench.
- The American Center for Law & Justice, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, often acts as a legal arm for the Religious Right’s attempts to deny liberties to LGBT people, Muslim Americans and others.
- The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action have become forces for obstructionism as they pressure Republicans to abandon any attempt at bipartisan cooperation or simple governance.
- The Family Research Council is working to turn back the clock on social advances for women, LGBT people and religious minorities — something that it hopes a friendly Supreme Court will accelerate.
Read the full report here.