charles schumer

CWA: Democrats Imposing “Homosexual Quotas” for Judiciary

After accusing President Obama of acting like a “despot” over his support of gay-rights, Mario Diaz of Concerned Women for America now claims that Democratic Senators are introducing “homosexual quotas” for judicial nominations. Currently there are two openly gay federal judges, both are women nominated by President Clinton.

Diaz says that Democrats care more about judges’ “sexual preferences” than their judicial philosophies, but at the same time maintains that Democrats only want judges who have a “radically liberal philosophy.” Since Obama has nominated J. Paul Oetken, who would be the first openly gay male federal judge, Diaz thinks the Democrats’ end-game is to “force men dressed as women down your throat.” Diaz writes:

Liberal Democrats have formed a strong allegiance with the lesbian, "gay," bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. President Obama is doing everything in his power to promote their agenda throughout all areas of government, and the judiciary is no exception.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said recently he "was shocked to learn there were no openly gay male judges on the entire federal bench," so liberals have set out on a crusade to rectify that, effectively implementing homosexual quotas.

I say "homosexual quotas," because that is the extent of their "commitment" for now. Although they talk about the LGBT community, they are not quite prepared to force men dressed as women down your throat ... yet.

Meanwhile, undeterred by his embarrassing episode with Alter, Schumer continued his search for a new "openly homosexual" candidate of his own. In this instance, otherwise qualified candidates need not apply. If you were not "gay," you did not meet his criteria. So he searched until he finally found someone. He recommended, and the president nominated, Paul Oetken (an even more in-your-face homosexual activist) to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Oetken's resumé includes a brief for the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association that helped bring about the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy decision at the Supreme Court. Schumer noted that Oetken is "a strong advocate" for the LGBT community and felt he needed to mention his work for the radically liberal Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. He has also written in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

Apparently, those are all great qualifications for a judgeship in the minds of Sen. Schumer and President Obama. Oetken's hearing was on March 16. Seeing the way liberal Democrats treat judicial nominations, one can understand why they are pushing for a process that would exclude a nominee's judicial philosophy from consideration. Apparently, the issue of judicial philosophy pales against the far weightier consideration of the nominee's sexual preferences.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • The Huffington Post reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham tried to make the case for a more diverse and open GOP to the South Carolina Republican Party convention - it did not go well.
  • Steve Benen remembers back when Sen. Mitch McConnell believed filibustering a president's judicial nominee was just about the worst thing a senator could do - but those days are over.
  • Howie Klein notes that not only did Arkansas state Senate's GOP Kim Hendren call Sen. Charles Schumer "that Jew," but Doyle Webb, the state Republican chairman, called a Democratic legislator "that lesbian."
  • FireDogLake reports that parents, with the assistance of Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, are fighting to keep "And Tango Makes Three" out of school curriculum.
  • AU weighs in on the news that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s daily top-secret briefings to former President George W. Bush during the early part of the Iraq War in 2003 featured covers festooned with photos of soldiers praying or in action in Iraq accompanied by Bible verses.
  • Finally, Jeffrey Toobin profiles Chief Justice John Roberts:
  • After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

Will the Judicial Confirmation Network Stick to its Pledge?

Shortly after the election, we noted that the Judicial Confirmation Network, which had been founded with the express purpose of helping to get President Bush’s judicial nominees confirmed, was starting to sing a different tune, proclaiming that the burden would now be upon President Obama and his nominees to prove that they are qualified to sit upon the federal bench and issuing an ominous warning that “senators will be accountable for [their] votes.”

At the time, it appeared as if the JCN’s mission was about to shift from one of working to get judges confirmed to one of working to ensure that they didn’t get confirmed.  But in a letter to the editor in the Washington Times, JCN Executive Director Gary Marx says that under President Obama the organization’s mission will remain the same:

The Judicial Confirmation Network was founded, in part, to support the principle that every nominee who goes to the full Senate deserves an up-or-down vote. We did not support this principle out of some amorphous notion of "bipartisanship," but rather, we believe it is the duty of the Senate to perform its constitutional role in the judicial-selection process. The Constitution is quite clear on this role, and nowhere does it require a supermajority for confirmation of the president's nominees.

If the Senate abides by the historical procedural rules governing the confirmation process, the Judicial Confirmation Network intends to stick to its principles and urge up-or-down votes - even on nominees we may oppose. It would be quite understandable if Republican senators felt otherwise - most have had extensive experience with Democratic promises of reciprocity.

Of course, the meaning of this pledge relies heavily on what Marx considers to be “the historical procedural rules governing the confirmation process” – Curt Levey of the equally right-wing Committee for Justice suggests that Marx means “those rules include respect for blue slip privileges.”

So now the question becomes which “historical procedural rules” regarding the blue slip does Marx mean; the rules Republicans had in place when Bill Clinton was President or the different ones they implemented when George W. Bush became president?

It was, on the whole, an unusual display of Democratic solidarity. On April 27, all nine Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- backed, according to ranking member Patrick Leahy, by the entire Democratic caucus -- signed a letter to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales about George W. Bush's proposed nominations to the federal bench. "We are not going to be rolled over," promised New York's Charles Schumer, who called the letter a "shot across the bow." The confirmation process, warned Leahy, "may grind to a screeching halt."

But not because Gonzales and Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch were planning to fill several dozen of the nearly 100 vacancies on the federal bench with staunch conservatives. No, the offense at hand was far more grave: At a confirmation hearing in early April, Hatch had hinted that he might change an obscure policy called the "blue slip," which senators have traditionally used to exercise near-veto power over judicial nominees. During the Clinton years, any one senator could block any candidate from his or her home state (by refusing to return a memo of approval printed, literally, on a blue slip of paper); under George W. Bush, Hatch informed the Democrats, a veto would require the opposition of both home-state senators -- a substantial dilution of a treasured prerogative of office.

The JCN says it will continue to press for up-or-down votes on judges that it opposes and so, for now, we’ll just have to take them at their word despite that fact that it seems exceedingly unlikely that it will actually do so once the battle over judicial nominations inevitably heats up.

A Reverse Religious Test?

What does Mike Huckabee need to get Religious Right leaders and voters to rally around his candidacy?  Apparently, all he needs is to have his right-wing views and record criticized by “elite secularists”:

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, DC, says Huckabee is being subjected to the same reverse religious litmus test that was applied during judicial confirmation hearings between 2003 and 2005.

"Senator Charles Schumer of New York said that he was opposed to some of these nominees of the president because of their 'deeply held personal beliefs' and those beliefs coming from their faith -- in particular, regarding abortion and seeing it as wrong," Perkins points out. "So we see a reverse religious test being applied [saying essentially] that anyone who has a vibrant Christian faith that impacts their life will have to choose between that faith and serving in public office -- and that, simply, is wrong."

Perkins says "elite secularists" are trying single out Huckabee because of his evangelical Christian faith, and are attempting to "make him look scary" to the public because he, among other things, rejects evolution, believes in the Bible, and trusts in Jesus Christ. But such efforts, the evangelical leader suggests, may only serve to generate more support for Huckabee in the conservative Christian community.

"I think there's a clear understanding and an attitude [about this] among Christians," says the FRC president. "They're simply tired of the elites who belittle their beliefs and attempt to rob them of every public reflection of their faith -- and I think this could backfire."

As always, whenever a Republican is questioned about his or her views and record, the Right’s immediate response is to impugn the motives of those who dare to point them out and accuse them of harboring everything from anti-Latino prejudice and flagrant anti-woman bias, to anti-Catholic bigotry and basic racism.

If Perkins was professionally invested in seeing anti-Christian persecution at every turn, he’d know that it is not “elite secularists” who are making Huckabee look scary – it is Huckabee’s own views that those with HIV should be quarantined and that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle” that is doing that.   

But if Perkins thinks that this sort of thing will help Huckabee with voters, Huckabee himself doesn’t seem to hold out much hope that the Religious Right elite will ever get over their reluctance to endorse him, even though he is a “true soldier for the cause”:

[Huckabee’s ads] also caught the attention of big-time figures in evangelical Christianity, many of whom have refrained from supporting Huckabee’s candidacy. This failure has puzzled and angered the governor. At the Olive Garden he spoke with bitterness about Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. ‘‘Richard Land swoons for Fred Thompson,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t know what that’s about. For reasons I don’t fully understand, some of these Washington-based people forget why they are there. They make ‘electability’ their criterion. But I am a true soldier for the cause. If my own abandon me on the battlefield, it will have a chilling effect.’’

The following week, at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Huckabee won the roomful of grass-roots evangelicals but failed to gain any significant endorsements from evangelical leaders. ‘‘The evangelical leadership didn’t, and perhaps still doesn’t, perceive Governor Huckabee as a winner,’’ Charles Dunn, dean of the school of government at Regent University, told me. ‘‘But more and more, it appears that the leadership is not in touch with its followers.’’

This indictment extends to the founder of Dunn’s own university, Pat Robertson, who has endorsed Rudy Giuliani. It applies equally to the National Right to Life Committee, which is with Fred Thompson; and to the Rev. Bob Jones III, Jay Sekulow, head of the American Center for Law and Justice (the evangelical counterpart of the A.C.L.U.), and Paul Weyrich, the conservative activist who helped build the evangelical movement, all of whom are supporting Mitt Romney. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, is still on the fence. ‘‘I just don’t understand his neutrality,’’ Huckabee told me one day at the end of October in Des Moines. ‘‘I’d be an obvious choice for his endorsement. We’re old friends. I love him and I love his wife, Shirley. I just don’t know how to explain it.’’

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