Two weeks ago, Ken Connor, Chairman of the Center for a Just Society, posted an article on that website and others in which he discussed how top GOP Establishment figures plan on co-opting successful Tea Party Congressional candidates:
“Trent Lott, former Senate Majority Leader and current K Street lobbyist, insists that there is no room in Washington for “a lot of Jim DeMint disciples” and that the GOP establishment must “co-opt” any Tea Party candidates who manage to actually win races and make it to Washington. Recognizing the wisdom in the old adage “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” the major operatives within the Grand Old Party know that the only way to maintain their grip on power is to find a way to keep the troops in line. In the military such control is maintained by the strict adherence to the chain of command. In third world dictatorships such control is maintained through intimidation. In Washington, such control is maintained by money, the mother’s milk of politics. Secure the Tea Party Republicans’ loyalty the old fashioned way, Lott argues – by buying it. By doing so, the Establishment’s agenda will become their agenda.”
But I’ve discovered that the co-opting process has been underway for years, fueled by contributions from the pro-“tort reform” lobby in the business community to numerous “cosnervative” groups across the country, and with major success. Early this year, I began an effort to identify those conventional conservative and faith-based legal foundations which, in my opinion, should be concerned that their access to civil justice has been severely compromised by the twin Supreme Court rulings in Bell Atlantic v Twombly and Ashcroft v Iqbal. Through those rulings, the Court materially restricted the civil complaint process in federal courts, leading to scores of dismissals without any discovery. One of the editors of the Federalist Society’s official law review has described that change as “bad news” that will increase “arbitrariness” by federal judges and promote “tremendous unpredictability.”
I pursued around 20 of the legal groups and foundations on the right, thinking that they would see the eventual implications for their civil suits to protect religious liberty, gun owners’ rights, parental rights, property rights, and even the rights of the unborn. I was deeply disappointed to find that almost all of the big-name conservative groups – the ones to whom I turn for sound conservative policy advice on many issues – have no knowledge or appreciation of the history, nature, or importance of the 7th Amendment’s guarantee of the God-given right to jury trials for civil suits. The Heritage Foundation, AEI, Cato Institute and others have already signed up to the “tort reform” agenda without any consideration for the unalienable right to a jury trial for civil suits. Moreover, all of the conservative legal foundations across the United States refused to join me, even though key officers in several told me that they were troubled by the sudden change in pleading standards. One counsel of a major conservative legal foundation admitted that he agreed with me, but he knew he couldn’t sell the position to his board, an obvious admission of influence by the business community.
Fortunately, I found some allies among the faith-based legal foundations, who kowtow to no one and are already seeing the Iqbal-Twombly pleading standards invoked against them in their filings. The Alliance Defense Fund not only wrote to Congress to express serious concern over the revised pleading standards, but informed all of its partners in their arena and encouraged them to do the same.
One veteran reporter on Washington, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, has already written of the Republican divide between K Street and Tea Party Republicans. I’ve already lived that divide and see that as the fault line for the next 5-10 years in the Republican Party.
It will be up to Constitutional conservatives to fight for each right enumerated in the Bill of Rights without compromise.