Congress Daily: Conservatives Push Leadership on Judges
“More than 60 conservative leaders today called on Senate Majority Leader Fristto set aside this month's planned debate on a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning and instead schedule votes on several pending appellate court nominations. 'We write to remind you of your duty, but also because we are concerned that if the majority that assured the confirmation votes of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice [Samuel] Alito lose just one seat in the next election, the future of the Supreme Court and the federal appellate bench will again be imperiled by use of filibusters,' members of the coalition of conservative groups wrote in a letter to Frist and Republican senators...The coalition argued the judges debate, which has pitted Republicans against Democrats, ranks higher in surveys with conservatives than the flag burning proposal.”
At a press conference earlier today lead by Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference, leaders of a number of conservative groups, including CFJ’s Sean Rushton, spoke with reporters:
"'It will get out small margins,' Miranda told reporters, conceding the issue would not mobilize large numbers of conservative voters. 'It is by small margins that several [GOP] senators currently hold their seats.' Miranda said the judge debate is a 'signature issue' for Frist, who would need conservatives for a potential White House bid in 2008. 'He began with a bang, but if he ends on a whimper that could hurt him,' Miranda said. 'We want to help him.'"
However, not everybody seems to be listening.
"One GOP Senate aide dismissed Miranda's news conference today as a media ploy to pressure Republicans on a single issue. 'The 'Flag Amendment' is not preventing movement on judges,' said the aide, arguing the flag proposal gave conservatives a 'juicier hook' than other legislative measures slated for floor debate this year."
The unnamed aide should take a look at Sean Rushton’s article on NRO from 2003 detailing how the issue of judicial nominations and Democratic obstruction helped Republicans across the country in the 2002 elections. (Also check out this Wall Street Journal editorial from 2006 that takes a similar view). In 2004 Republicans again benefited from the issue, including John Thune, who managed to knock off then-Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle. As Miranda said earlier today, we want to help.