MSNBC's Williams falsely suggested that conservative advocacy groups support Miers nomination

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

On the October 4 edition of MSNBC Live, justice correspondent Pete Williams asserted that "there's a split" between conservative commentators who oppose the nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and conservative groups. But while various conservative groups have expressed support for Miers, numerous other conservative organizations and their leaders have opposed or expressed their misgivings over her nomination.

On MSNBC Live, Williams claimed that "it would be wrong to say conservatives have opposed the nomination, because I think there's a split between conservative commentators like [Weekly Standard editor] William Kristol and [nationally syndicated radio host] Rush Limbaugh -- who were quite concerned about it yesterday -- and the leaders of conservative groups themselves." As examples, Williams cited Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, and the American Center for Law and Justice, which, he said, all "expressed their support for the nomination of Harriet Miers."Williams then added, "[I]t may be a somewhat tentative support, and I think that's where everybody is right now."

But in fact, a number of conservative advocacy groups and their leaders have expressed wariness regarding Miers's nomination or opposed it outright. In an October 3 press release, Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins announced that the FRC would withhold judgment on the Miers nomination due to the group's "lack of knowledge about Harriet Miers, and the absence of a record on the bench." The anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue announced its opposition to Miers on October 3, as did the conservative group Public Advocate of the United States.

An October 4 Associated Press article reported: "Paul Weyrich, a conservative leader from the Free Congress Foundation, said he was disappointed with the pick but would withhold judgment until he learns more. 'The grassroots are not happy,' he told The Associated Press." An October 4 Financial Times article (posted on MSN.com) quoted Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative Eagle Forum, saying: "We don't know anything about her, other than that she is a friend of Bush," and, "There is disappointment that she is not a [Justice Antonin] Scalia or a [Justice Clarence] Thomas with a good record to rally around ... He owed us that and she obviously isn't that."

Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate and president of American Values, also criticized the Miers nomination. According to an October 4 Washington Post article, Bauer expressed misgivings about the lack of information regarding Miers, saying: "The future of the Supreme Court is too important to leave to chance." The October 4 New York Times also quoted Bauer claiming that the "ramifications" of Miers's nomination "will be felt not just against [Bush] but against the Republican Party."

From the October 4 edition of MSNBC Live:

WILLIAMS: I also think it would be wrong to say that conservatives have opposed the nomination, because I think there's a split between conservative commentators like William Kristol and Rush Limbaugh -- who were quite concerned about it yesterday -- and the leaders of conservative groups themselves. Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, the American Center for Law and Justice -- the Pat Robertson legal group -- all of them have expressed their support for the nomination of Harriet Miers. Now, it may be a somewhat tentative support, and I think that's where everybody is right now. "We have a lot more to learn," is what they're basically saying. But the initial, sudden "Whoa! This isn't what we wanted" approach is not coming from the groups themselves. It's coming from the commentators who had their own hopes. And so, I think that's an important distinction to make.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Miers Nomination
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