Supreme Court Nominations

Stevens Resignation Reaction: From Pelosi to Schlafly

Within minutes of news that Justice John Paul Stevens would be stepping down from the Supreme Court, politicians and advocacy groups across the political spectrum issued statements about the retirement and, more importantly, who President Obama should nominate next.

Here’s a sampling of the friendly advice broadcast via press release:

Barbara Arnwine, exec. director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: “Many decisions of the Supreme Court greatly impact the clients we serve and as Justice Stevens lamented in his powerful 2007 dissent in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 et al., the increasingly conservative composition of the court has damaged the constitutional rights of our most vulnerable citizens: ‘The court has changed significantly since it decided School Comm. of Boston in 1968. It was then more faithful to Brown and more respectful of our precedent than it is today. It is my firm conviction that no member of the court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.’ We agree and encourage President Obama to be mindful of any potential nominee’s effect upon longstanding constitutional precedent and civil rights laws.”

Tom Fitton, president, Judicial Watch: “President Obama needs to replace Justice Stevens with a person who will apply the Constitution strictly and not substitute their own political beliefs for the rule of law. If President Obama nominates an ‘empathetic’ liberal judicial activist, he will have a fight on his hands. With looming constitutional challenges ranging from Obamacare to new rights for foreign terrorists, the United State Senate should ensure that only a justice who will strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution is approved. Given the stakes, every U.S. Senator should know that the upcoming Supreme Court vote will be as closely watched as their votes on Obamacare. Tea Party activists ought to be paying close attention to this nomination.”

Michael B. Keegan, president, People For the American Way: “I hope [President Obama] will select someone who will continue Justice Stevens’s tradition of working to ensure that individuals receive the fair treatment that our Constitution guarantees. In recent years, the Court has given extraordinary preference to powerful interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. Justice Stevens was a bulwark against that trend. Our country’s next Justice must play a similar role.”

Nancy Northup, president, Center for Reproductive Rights: “We are carefully evaluating potential nominees to ensure their commitment to the constitutional principles in Roe v. Wade. Because continuing protections for abortion rights could hang in the balance, it’s essential that the Kabuki dance around constitutional protection for abortion rights does not prevent a full examination of the eventual nominee’s position on this critical issue.”

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House: “History will remember Justice Stevens for his brilliant legal mind, his devotion to the judiciary, and his achievements as a guardian of our Constitution. I look forward to the President nominating an individual who carries on Justice Stevens’ legacy, who stands for justice, equality, and opportunity for all, and who keeps faith with the Supreme Court’s role as a defender of individual rights.”

Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council Action: “President Obama must now consider carefully the strong opposition that will result if he nominates a hard-Left jurist. If he selects someone with a radical judicial philosophy, the fabric of our already divided country will be torn even more.”

Phyllis Schlafly, president, Eagle Forum: “The vacancy resulting from Stevens’ retirement is significant because it means that the Supreme Court is at risk of being left without a single military veteran…t is critical that President Obama replace a military veteran judge with another military veteran judge. If President Obama can make this happen, it will certainly be a winner with American voters, but if he does not, it will reinforce his commitment to ideology alone and further erode the American people’s confidence in their president.”

J. Brent Walker, exec. director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty: “On balance, Justice Stevens has been a thoughtful, diligent jurist who has served the Court and this country admirably. I trust President Obama will nominate someone who embraces Justice Stevens’s understanding of the importance of the non-establishment principle, but who will be willing to permit – or even require – the government’s accommodation of religion in appropriate cases and to respect the autonomy rights of religion and religious organizations.”

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