WSJ's Fund claimed that economic -- not religious -- conservatives sank Miers nomination

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin asserted that "social, largely religious conservatives" forced the withdrawal of Harriet Miers's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund responded to Toobin by naming two conservative religious leaders who had been Miers's "biggest backers" and claiming, "It was economic conservatives, including The Wall Street Journal, that were skeptical" of her nomination. In fact, following the disclosure of a speech by Miers in which she said that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer, numerous social conservative groups and leaders demanded that Miers's nomination be withdrawn.

While discussing the schism between social and economic conservatives inside the Republican Party on the March 20 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin asserted that "social, largely religious conservatives" forced the withdrawal of Harriet Miers's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund responded to Toobin by naming two conservative religious leaders who had been Miers's "biggest backers" and claiming, "It was economic conservatives, including The Wall Street Journal, that were skeptical" of the Miers nomination. In fact, after The Washington Post disclosed a past Miers speech in which she said that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer, many other conservative groups and leaders, some of whom had already opposed her nomination and others who had not, demanded that President Bush withdraw it, which he did on October 27, 2005.

During the discussion, host Lou Dobbs claimed that "there's no question that religion is powerful in its influence in our court system, in our Congress, and in this White House." Toobin then replied, "Just ask Harriet Miers," adding that her "nomination was defeated not by Democrats, but by social, largely religious conservatives, who are so powerful in the White House right now." Fund then suggested Toobin's argument was false, claiming: "But her biggest backers were [Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C.] Dobson and Richard Land," president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Fund added, "It was the economic conservatives, including The Wall Street Journal, that were skeptical. She had a lot of social conservative backers. So that doesn't wash."

But as Media Matters for America has previously noted, Dobson essentially retracted his prior support of the nomination upon the release of the two speeches. The Los Angeles Times reported on October 28, 2005, that "[o]ne of the final straws may have been a report early this week that Miers, in a 1993 speech, expressed the view that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about abortion." The Times noted that Dobson, who had previously endorsed Miers, "said his group would not have been able to support her candidacy because of the speech."

Even before the speeches came out, as Media Matters has also noted, the group Concerned Women for America stated that it "cannot endorse [Miers's] nomination." Gary Bauer, president of the religious activist organization American Values, stated his concern about the nomination and vowed to withhold support until he "know[s] with some certainty that she is a vote for our values." Operation Rescue, an organization committed to outlawing abortion, also voiced its opposition, stating that it would "not support Miers' nomination unless more information is released assuring conservatives that she will be a strong constitutional constructionist to the [sic] in the mold of [justices Clarence] Thomas and [Antonin] Scalia." Additionally, Public Advocate of the United States, another conservative religious organization, stated that it rejected Miers's nomination because she was what the group considered a "stealth candidate."

Moreover, CNN, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Times all noted that opposition from conservative activists to Miers's expressed views on social issues such as abortion played a role in the withdrawal of the Miers nomination.

From the March 20 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

FUND: Both parties are in complete discredit with most of the American people.

DOBBS: Both parties are in complete discredit, and the idea of a theocracy, whether one -- however one looks at it, there's no question that religion is powerful in its influence in our court system, in our Congress, and in this White House.

TOOBIN: Just ask Harriet Miers. Harriet Miers's nomination was defeated not by Democrats but by social, largely religious conservatives, who are so powerful in the White House right now, they got one -- the president's own Supreme Court nominations --

FUND: But her biggest backers were Dobson and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Conference. It was the economic conservatives, including The Wall Street Journal, that were skeptical. She had a lot of social conservative backers, so that doesn't wash.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
John Fund
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Miers Nomination
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