WASHINGTON: A number of conservative groups are switching focus from thwarting the judicial filibuster to decrying the actions of the seven Republican senators who brokered an agreement that preserved the procedure.
Fourteen senators ? seven Democrats and seven Republicans ? compromised on the use of filibusters on judicial appointees last month. The Republicans vowed not to push a vote on banning it, while the Democrats promised to invoke it only in ?extreme circumstances.?
The conservative groups that spent time and money on advocating for the elimination of the judicial filibuster are now angrily engaging their constituents in hopes of punishing those Republicans who compromised.
Focus on the Family, American Conservative Union, and Concerned Women for America were among the groups to issue press releases or speak to the media to decry the Republican senators who brokered the deal.
Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, appeared on Fox?s Hannity & Colmes, saying, ?I think Sen. [Lindsey] Graham [R-SC] made a big mistake. ... This was a very bad political decision, and I think it will come back to haunt him.?
Manuel Miranda, former aide to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) and chairman of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters (NCEJF), specifically mentioned Sens. Mike DeWine (R-OH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) as centrists up for re-election in 2006 who will potentially find Republican opposition to their campaigns. He also said that Mc- Cain?s potential presidential run in 2008 was now in trouble.
?If McCain expected any grassroots support in New Hampshire or Iowa, he?s not getting it,? Miranda said.
Kay Daly, president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, said that, while conservative voters might be angry with those senators now, it might not be the issue that drives people to the polls in 2006. ?This is a multi-faceted strategy that can alter on a dime,? Daly said. ?It?s not about refocusing messaging; it?s about continually being in a crisis communications situation. We?re not just going to be press release jockeys here.?
The NCEJF has subsequently rebranded as the Third-Branch Conference, shifting its attention to planning grassroots initiatives for potential Supreme Court judicial nominees.