Monday, September 12, 2005

[Supreme Court]

Liveblogging a Conference Call with Sen. Kennedy, Joe Trippi, Ralph Neas

I'm picking up midstream here in a conference call Senator Ted Kennedy is having with a number of bloggers. I, strangely, am one, though along with the other riff raff, we're on mute. Also on board are Joe Trippi and Ralph Neas, President of the People for the American Way. The first part of the conversation is in hardcopy, and I'll post it later. Picking up now, Ralph Neas is addressing the group.

[5:26] Neas (now picking up with liveblogging) is speaking about the danger of Roberts; his politics are extreme, but his personality is very light, making him potentially more dangerous than Scalia and Thomas. Neas believes that not only will the eight Dems on the judiciary committe oppose Roberts, but potentially some other moderate GOP senators.

Sees the hearings as critical to creating the image of Roberts that will shape opinion about him, which will in turn shape support or opposition to him.

[5:29] Neas--Roberts could be on the court for eight or nine presidents. A scary thought.

[5:30] Chris Bowers speaking. What's the most successful blog strategy? Blog a lot more. Roberts didn't even make it into Technorati's top ten most of the day ("impeach bush" is a more searched term). "We have to make the Roberts story the number one story in the blogosphere right now--I mean tonight and tomorrow."

Google Bomb: imbed "John Roberts with the dkosipedia" site on John Roberts.

[5:33] To Armando from dKos ... Armando's not here.

[5:34] Armando's here!

Armando argues two fundamental objectives for bloggers to emphasize are: 1) get the documents out or at least the story about the documents out; 2) privacy. Not just Roe, but privacy. Polling shows that western states are strongly pro-privacy and anti-choice.

After a half hour of talk about Roberts, Jeff's mind begins to wander. Notes that an Spanish language blog has referred to Hog. What are they saying? Wait, what's Armando saying? Something about the commerce clause ...

[5:42] Open lines! Miriam Rafter asks if the Senators will filibuster. Ralph answered that it would require a constellation of things: stonewalling on documents, nonresponse from Roberts, other factors to create "extraordinary circumstances."

Bob Fertik, Only way to get a filibuster is extraordinary circumstances. Issues could get us outside ordinary circumstances, but will Dems push these? Ralph says we gotta hammer privacy to provoke extraordinary circumstances.

[5:49] I'm getting the sense that people are feeling that the fight about Roberts is a fight about possitioning ourselves for O'Connor.

[5:52] Eight minutes and it's not looking good for me to get a question.

[5:53] Neas mentions the Senators needed to stand tall against Roberts:

Dems: Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Bird, Evan Bayh, Thomas Carper. Repubs: Susan Collns, Chaffee, Specter, Snow.

Matt from BOP: was Clarence Thomas misleading,? If yes, there seem to be no consequences, so why should we trust Roberts' testimony? Great question. Answer--uhhhh.

[5:57] New blogger whose name I missed. Believes that because there's no talk of filibusters, the left is supine. Good point.

[5:59] I begin to tire; grow despondent with the knowledge I ain't getting in. And they're calling it.

[6:00] The question I would have asked is: what kind of support can we get for questioning Roberts on the forthcoming case--to be heard this fall--on Oregon's Death With Dignity law? All politics are local, and if anything is going to cause Gordon Smith, Oregon's GOP senator, to shy away from Roberts, it's that. And then people might have heard of Blue Oregon, too, which would have been cool.

Ah well.

Added material from longhand [6:05pm]
[5:05] Joe Trippi gives the intro, announces that Ralph Neas of PFAW is online, as are Chris Bowers and Armando. Then Kennedy rings in unexpectedly.

[5:07] Senator Kennedy spoke for twenty minutes, mounting a pretty good case for at least giving Roberts a careful look. Started out my mentioning that Roberts is competent, but, "Will he continue the march toward progress, or follow the stingy view of conservatives" like Scalia and Thomas?

[5:12] "No one is entitled to serve on the Supreme Court. You must interview for the job and win the support of the American people." Kennedy notes that he voted against Roberts when he was nominated for the DC district Court because Roberts wasn't forthcoming under questioning.

[5:22] Considering Supreme Court nominees is the most serious thing US senators do except for declaring war.

(For a similar account to his comments, see his comments during this morning's hearings--the are relatively similar.)


Joe Trippi said...

Jeff -- thanks for liveblogging the call and helping to spread the word.

Jeff Alworth said...

Joe, thanks for adding some glamor to the comments section. We're christening it nicely!

eRobin said...

I'm trying to be a team player and stay positive about this Roberts nomination fight but I don't feel it. The Senate Dems may have some great plan to get vocal about opposing this nomination after the hearings - waiting so they can filibuster saying that "See? we gave you every chance to release those docs and you didn't and so we must stand firm against this man." But I've never seen them pull anything even half as clever or as courageous as that so I don't think they're going to do it now. I don't think they're capable of doing something like that.

I think these conference calls and letters and all the impassioned and (as it sounds from your description of Kennedy's twenty minutes) half-assed opposition to Roberts is about proving something to the very small number of base Dems who 1)understand what's at stake and 2) don't understand or even care what's at stake but don't want Roberts to have an easy time of it on principle.

Why would I waste my time eductating myself on finer points of constitutional law when, in the end, the Dems will let me down, as they always do?

I suppose when it's all said and done and Roberts assumes leadership of the court for the next thirty five years, the Dems will say that they couldn't filibuster because the grassroots didn't do their job getting out the dissent. That's exactly the kind of cowardly buck passing I've come to count on from them.