Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Biggest reason some Right Wing groups Oppose Kagan nomination?

by Cody Lyon

Now that Alabama Senate Republican Jeff Sessions has won a weeklong delay on any final vote to confirm Soliciter General Elena Kagan as a supreme court justice, a right leaning, tea party affiliated organization called Judicial Action Group or Jag, also based in Session's home state, is reportedly buying up commercial time for a new video ad aimed at swaying three important senate votes to 'no on Kagan.'

It was just over a year ago in June 2009 that Sessions, the Judiciary Committee's Ranking member vigorously questioned the record of then Supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, focusing attention on Sotomayor's affiliation with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. After Sessions raised those concerns, another right leaning organization called "Judicial Watch" released a report on Sotomayor's record it said shows PRLDEF supports a “radical legal agenda. That campaign failed and Sotomayor went on to see confirmation.

The more recent video campaign is specific, aimed at two Democrats, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, as well as Republican Senator Lindsay Grahm of South Carolina. Each video has basically the same script, however, each is tailored to either one of the the three Senators, for example, viewers are urged to call and tell Senator Ben Nelosn to vote no on Elena Kagan.

The "Judical Action Group" video features an urgent toned voice claiming Kagan, as professor and Dean at Harvard Law School, 'advocated judicial activism and favors foreign law over our constitution." The ad also says Kagan "welcomed law firms representing terrorists" and "banned our military recruiters" from the school's campus. Kagan also "welcomed law firms representing terrorists' and "took $20 million in Saudi Money to establish a center for Islamic Studies and Sharia Law." The video, set against still photos of Kagan and hightlighted text of the charges leveled in the video, does not offer any sort of context or tracable sources as to where the charges extend from.

On July 12, JAG issued a press release saying it was launching a “Nelson & Kagan” ad campaign by co-hosting a
press conference that day in Omaha, NE. The group confirmed the effort is meant "to put pressure on Sen. Nelson to vote “No” on Kagan." JAG said it was co-hosting that event with Jennifer Hulsey of Tea Party Express, Doug Kagan of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, and Benjamin Smith (former Navy seal) of Move America Forward. They say similar Pressers and TV ad buys will occur Tues in Little Rock, AR and Thurs in Columbia, SC.

Judicial Action Group is a 501(c)4 non-profit corporation with offices in Washington, D.C. and Birmingham, Alabama. Founded in 2006, the 501(c)4 status (unlike a tax-deductible 501(c)3 status) allows JAG to engage in unlimited lobbying, 'maximizing its influence.' The group is part of a larger coalition of right leaning groups including the web umbrella, Freedom Federation.' That particular coalition of activists calls itself "a federation of multiracial, multiethnic and multigenerational faith-based and policy organizations and leaders committed to plan, strategize, and mobilize to advance shared core values to preserve freedom and promote justice" Featured along with Judicial Action Group on the Freedom Federation website, several other widely known Right Wing groups including better known groups like Family Research Council, American Family Association, Eagle Forum and The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Leading JAG is president Phillip Jauregu,a partner at Birmingham law firm Jauregu & Lindsey who Jauregu's biography says represents various clients ranging from small business, to corporate entities, to individuals, such as former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Judge Roy Moore, a hero in right wing circles gained national attention when as Chief Justice, he placed a washing machine sized replica of the biblical ten commandments in the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court. When challenged and eventually court ordered to remove the replica, hordes of fundamentalist Christian groups from around the nation descended onto the capital Montgomery to pray, protest and hold vigils.

Moore was eventually ordered out of office and Jauregui led the legal team that eventually lost an appeal that resulted in the removal of then Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from office, over his refusal to remove the granite replica.

Jauregui's JAG says it believes that the present state of the culture war created the need for a Special Forces unit that single-mindedly devotes itself to one mission: "defeating judicial activism." On its website, JAG says it serves this vital niche.

But, some saw Jauregui client Roy Moore as an activist judge. In a November 2003 Court of the Judiciary hearing, Alabama's Assistant Attorney General said Moore's defiance, left unchecked, "undercuts the entire workings of the judicial system. He said what message does that send to the public, to other litigants? The message it sends is: If you don't like a court order, you don't have to follow it."

Recently, Moore made a run in the 2010 Republican primary for Governor. Winning just 19% of state votes, he placed fourth.

The 40 year old Jauregu also served as Assistant Legal Advisor to Alabama Governor Fob James, the Alabama governor who gained attention by opposing the teaching of evolution in the state's public schools. James' son, Tim James recently also recently made a run for Governor in the same race as Moore. He gained national attention of his own through television ads decryiny multi-linguil drivers license exams. James, like Moore, lost in the election, placing third in the primary.

As the Sotomayor nomination came closer to vote, in June 2009, JAG's Jauregu as President of JAG, joined a large group of conservative activists who wrote and signed a letter to Republican Senators urging that they fillibuster then nominee Sotomayer. But, many in that same group of activists had signed a similar letter a few years earlier during the Bush Administration "opposing" the use of filibusters during Supreme Court nominations.

That said, more recently, Jauregu's JAG has made the opposition of Kagan as a supreme court justice a priority. JAG's website points visitors to research and analysis by Alliance Defense Fund, American United For Life, Family Research Council and the Aiken ScotusBlog.

Perhaps more telling, an article detailing Jauregui and apparently the worry of many Right Leaning groups titled 'Do Ask, Do Tell - Whether Kagan's Public Policies are Improperly Dictated by Her Private Affairs.'

Here, Jauregui worries that "Kagan’s decision to bar military recruiters from Harvard was either a horrible legal decision, or a use of her office to impose her personal views on the military."

Then, Jauregui writes "if media reports that Kagan is a lesbian are true, then her decision to bar military recruiters from Harvard has every appearance of growing from her personal preferences and practices. Obama says that he wants justices who have empathy and know what it is like to be gay. Well, it is relevant for Americans to know whether such a preoccupation of knowing how it feels to be gay, led Elena Kagan to ignore the law and ban the heterosexual military from Harvard because it conflicted with her own personal feelings and practices."

No word as to whether or not, Jauregui wondered if he thought Judge Roy Moore's defiance over a large replica of the Ten Commandments in the state Supreme Court building might indicate that the the former chief justice intended to impose "his" personal views on the state's highest court.

Meanwhile, the video targeting the votes of the three Senators makes no mention of Kagan's rumored sexuality

No comments: