By Liz Halloran
A conservative group organizing opposition to President Obama's first Supreme Court nomination -- expected any day -- today announced a new website that targets three women it believes to be on the administration's short-list.
The site, Obama's Frontrunners, focuses on appeals court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, and U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
During a late-morning conference call with reporters and conservative activists, Judicial Confirmation Network President Gary Marx pledged to engage the nation in a "healthy debate" over Obama's pick to replace retiring Justice David Souter.
But he and the network's chief counsel Wendy Long acknowledged that the president will make his first high court appointment from a position of strength. (Meaning: Democrats hold a near-60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the body that ultimately gives the thumbs up or down to high court nominations.)
Marx said he wants conservatives to "have conversations" with their senators about Obama's nominee to let them know that voters will "hold them accountable" in Senate elections in 2010 and beyond.
Chief counsel Long paid special attention to Wood, saying that conservatives perceive the 7th circuit court judge as a front-runner.
The group's talking points, and its website, seek to characterize the three women as left-wing ideologues who reflect Obama's oft-stated sentiment that judges should follow the law but employ empathy when handing down justice. And that's a position that should be anathema to fans of "judicial restraint," Marx and Long say.
Marx says that the Judicial Confirmation network, which helped rally support for the nominations of now-Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, is putting teams "on the ground" in up to 10 states in anticipation of Obama's announcement, and urged activists to get busy.
"Be vigilant," Marx advised conservatives.
Liz is a Washington correspondent for NPR Digital News.
categories: National News