Licking their chops over the Supreme Court


Mark Follman
November 25, 2004 1:45AM (UTC)

Even after a rather dramatic sweep in the November elections, right-wing Republicans are still plenty hungry for a further consolidation of power -- and Turkey Day aside, the U.S. Supreme Court is looking like an awfully juicy next course.

So don't think for a minute that the well-oiled grassroots machine that helped sail Republicans into both houses of Congress and President Bush back into the White House is idling in the glow of victory. Over at the American Prospect, contributor Greg Sargent profiles Kay Daly, a rising star of the right-wing movement focused on helping Bush install hard-line judicial nominees as soon as one or more seats open up on the nation's most powerful bench. One conservative admirer, Sargent reports, recently dubbed the savvy Daly "the next Phyllis Schlafly."

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"A blond, 38-year-old Virginia woman who describes herself, with disingenuous self-deprecation, as a 'stay-at-home mom,' Daly heads a four-year-old conservative group called Coalition for a Fair Judiciary," Sargent writes. "The organization's goal is to boost judicial candidates she deems worthy, which coincide rather overwhelmingly with the ones Bush deems worthy. During Bush's first term, her dogged advocacy for the president's judicial picks largely passed under the radar of the biggest mainstream media outlets, but her zeal won applause from the conservative establishment. American Conservative Union President David Keene recently described her as 'the next Phyllis Schlafly.'"

Sargent shines a light on Daly's rather intriguing background as a young GOP operative, alongside her husband Jack Daly, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor:

"The Dalys represent a picture-perfect Republican union -- their second son's middle name is 'Reagan' -- and are fierce partisan warriors who are not afraid to get their hands dirty on behalf of client or party. Jack Daly threw waffles at candidate Bill Clinton during a campaign stop in Winston-Salem in 1992. And last spring, in the midst of a nasty Republican congressional primary in North Carolina, the Dalys were accused of sending out fictitious e-mails to Christian voters about a rival of Kay Daly's candidate, in which a character named 'Pastor Randy' falsely alluded to a variety of lurid criminal charges against the rival. Kay Daly has denied involvement."

And he notes how her tactics hew to a method of mobilization that's proven quite effective:

"Daly is best understood as a marketing specialist who is hawking a singular product: outrage over 'liberals' who won't simply rubber-stamp whatever judicial nominee Bush puts forth. Her customer base is comprised of right-wing Christians who readily, indeed eagerly, lap up her pitch. And recent history shows that the strategy works -- both for Dalys reputation on the right and for the GOP at large."

Anyone who fears a couple more Antonin Scalias on the bench may want to read the whole piece and then peruse the Web site of Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. As Sargent notes, the enemy camp is wasting no time preparing for the coming battle: "Flush from election day gains, these activists see the courts as unconquered territory: the last redoubt of the left, the final frontier in their Holy War on liberalism."

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Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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