Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Third Branch Conference Laying Out Principles on Judges


For Immediate Release6 May 2008
Contact: Manuel Miranda,

Conservative Leaders Move to Adopt Guiding Principles for Republicans on Judges Applaud John McCain for Wake Forest Speech

Washington, D.C.

Today in Washington the Third Branch Conference, an association of over 150 grasstop leaders of the Conservative, Evangelical, Libertarian, and Values Voters movements, released a first draft of five principles to rally constituents and speak a clear message to the Republican presidential and senatorial candidates and Republican Senate leaders. The issuance of the "Third Branch Principles" coincides with a much-awaited speech on judicial nominations and the Judiciary.

"We applaud Senator McCain for his Wake Forest speech today, he clearly wants whatwe want," said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference. "We are pleased that his speech and our Principles coincide in their emphasis on two key aspects: judicial restraint in judging and seeking proven merit in nominating. In making this speech, Senator McCain is not reaching out to the the right wing. This is a 70/30 issue. He is speaking to millions of Americans, Republicans andDemocrats, who have felt daily affronts to their faith and values by the decisionsof un-elected judges."

The Third Branch Conference was first organized as the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters and triggered the Senate debate over the "nuclear option". The coalition opposed the "Gang of 14" compromise. As the largest coalition oforganizations ever assembled, TBC reorganized to oppose to the Supreme Court nomination of Alberto Gonzalez and to support John Roberts' nomination. Third Branch was the first voice to oppose the Miers nomination and supported the seating of Sam Alito. The Conference has consistently maintained independence from the White House and Republican Senate leaders and held their feet to the fire.

Once over 100 grasstop leaders have signed on to the Third Branch Principles, the five principles will serve as the basis for a new Republican Party platform plank. The statement of principles attached include 1) Do no harm, show judicial restraint. 2) No litmus tests or excessive respect for past error; 3) No more stealth nominations to the Supreme Court; 4) Federal judicial nominee must be openly debated and given an honest vote up or down; and 5) No religious tests. The fifth principle is a clear rebuke to the assaults by Senate Democrats on judicial nominees of faith, which was denounced by Jewish leaders, Catholic bishops and Evanagelical pastors.

The Third Branch Principles were publicly supported today by key leaders Paul Weyrich, Connie Mackey, Rev. Rick Scarborough, Phil Burress, widely believed to be responsible for the George W. Bush victories in Ohio in 2000 and 2004, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, Dr. Patricia McEwen of Life Coalition International, and Rev. Miquel Rivera, head of National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, among others.

"With clear principles, we want to prevent the kind of embarrassment experienced byour friends and a president in October 2005 with the Miers nomination, and we want to prevent the disunity we experienced in May 2005 in the debate over the constitutional option," said Miranda. "We hope that Senator McCain and other leaders will come to affirm the Third Branch Principles."

"As a Senate leadership counsel, I know that John McCain was a good soldier on our extraordinary efforts to get the filibustered appellate nominees a fair vote. I believe John McCain would have voted for the constitutional option if another path had not been found to end the threat of a filibuster on the eve of expected Supreme Court vacancies. That was our first goal then and John McCain found a way to get us there," said Miranda.

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