Thursday, May 19, 2005


Do you remember a year or so ago when Republicans were outraged after internal Democratic judiciary committee memos were stolen and leaked to the press? They weren't outraged about the theft; rather they were outraged that the memos showed Democratic senators consulting with interest groups on the issue of judicial nominees.

I remember that. Which makes things like this a bit hard to understand
Working closely with the Republican National Committee, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and outside interest groups, the White House is helping shape a campaign that in many ways resembles its effort to shape public opinion and win votes in Congress for Mr. Bush's proposed overhaul of Social Security, Republican officials said.

Each Tuesday morning, the Republican National Committee convenes a strategy session on Social Security that includes White House officials, senior Republican staff members from Congress and representatives of outside groups that are drumming up support in the filibuster dispute.

Those groups include some with close ties to Mr. Bush and his political machine, like the Committee for Justice, which is run by C. Boyden Gray, who was White House counsel under Mr. Bush's father. The group was established three years ago with the encouragement of Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and Mr. Rove, said its executive director, Sean Rushton.

Also involved are groups that have backed Mr. Bush on other fronts like Progress for America, which has been running advertising that supports the White House on judicial nominations just as it has on Social Security and in Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.


The White House can call on a broad array of conservative groups that come at the issue from perspectives like opposing abortion and gay marriage, as well as legal theory. The participants in the weekly meetings include representatives of Focus on the Family, the powerful Christian advocacy group run by Dr. James C. Dobson, and the Federalist Society, the influential conservative legal group.
Things like this too
At the beginning of Mr. Bush's first term, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi wanted to be prepared for any potential battles over Supreme Court nominees. He turned to former White House Counsel Boyden Gray from the administration of George H.W. Bush to put together a conservative team that could compete with the battle-tested machine on the left. No openings came about during that term, but Mr. Gray nonetheless assembled "the four horsemen," which included himself, Mr. Sekulow, Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, and Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, a libertarian legal think tank.

In the 2004 campaign, conservative anger over the judiciary was stoked by prominent decisions in favor of gay rights, notably a Massachusetts ruling for gay marriage. The call to rein in the federal judiciary became one of President Bush's best applause lines during the 2004 campaign. Evangelicals motivated by that cause claimed to play a major role in his re-election.

Within weeks of Mr. Bush's second inauguration, Mr. Sekulow sat down for lunch at a Morton's Restaurant to plot a strategy for getting around the filibuster with the other horsemen. Mr. Sekulow was charged with educating conservative activists on Senate procedure, Mr. Leo assembled conservative legal scholars to counter Ivy League liberals, and Mr. Meese gathered the historical and legal underpinnings to justify the Republican position.

The horsemen hold a conference call each Monday to plot priorities and tactics for the week. Sometimes a Senate ally will ask for help, such as a recent plea that Mr. Sekulow drum up telephone calls to Senate offices since they were being flooded with pro-Democratic calls organized by and abortion-rights groups.

The horsemen have also been coordinating closely with the White House. They met in the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House four years ago as they began to organize with Tim Goeglein, the White House's public liaison. Either Mr. Goeglein or another White House liaison occasionally joins the weekly call, and all of the horsemen have friends in the Bush administration whom they regularly update.
And just for good measure, Manuel Miranda, the guy responsible for obtaining the Democratic memos that set off the firestorm of right wing outrage, is now the head of National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters.

Just take a guess as to what their role is and who they are working with.

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