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Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.

Replacing Justice Stevens

As Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court last week, conservative advocacy groups began weighing potential nominees for the high court.

Focus on the Family Action re-released a statement made last year whenBruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst for Focus, said of possible replacements for David Souter," the issue is not their sexual orientation. It's whether they are a good judge or not." 

Focus issued a statement clarifying its position:

It has been reported that we would not oppose any U.S. Supreme Court nominee over their "sexual orientation." Our Judicial Analyst made a statement to this effect in an interview with The Plum Line. To be honest, this is one of those conversations we'd like to "do over." We can assure you that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God's created intent and desire for humanity. Further, we at Focus do affirm that character and moral rectitude should be key considerations in appointing members of the judiciary, especially in the case of the highest court in the land. Sexual behavior—be it heterosexual or homosexual—certainly lies at the heart of personal morality.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus Action, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that he believed a gay justice would be biased in cases involving sexuality.

In February, Focus Action and other groups discussed what they saw as bias by the gay judge in the Proposition 8 court case, which could overturn California's law on banning same-sex marriage.

Last year, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council (FRC) said the FRC could support a nominee who is gay if the justice "respects judicial restraint and the original intent of the Constitution." 

"In the real world, however, the chances of finding a highly-qualified judge who fits both of those descriptions are probably about equal to the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle," Sprigg said.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), summarized a view shared by Focus Action, Traditional Values Coalition, and other groups. President Obama is likely to replace Stevens with another liberal justice, so the balance of the court will not change. The main cause for concern is that the 90-year-old Stevens would be replaced by a younger justice.

Conservatives are looking for judicial appointees who will rule similarly to the four more conservative justices on the bench. Bruce Hausknecht of Focus Action, for example, is looking for "someone in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts, or Justices Alito, Thomas and Scalia."

"President Obama desperately needs to choose a qualified and Constitutionally-sound nominee. It would be healing for the country for President Obama to change course and select a nominee that respects the Constitution more than their own—or foreign countries'—ideology," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for American (CWA).

For Tony Perkins, president of FRC, the nomination will be a test to see if "the GOP is willing to go to the mat for conservative principles."

"This clash over the Supreme Court is the opportune time for Republicans to draw a clear line of distinction between their ideology and the President's," Perkins said.

The Other Court Fight

The Ninth Circuit has also been a cause of concern for conservative activists. The Senate is currently considering Goodwin Liu, Obama's nominee for the court. Liu has been more controversial than the President's previous judiciary nominees because he is, as The New York Times puts it, "a liberal legal rock star." Conservative advocacy groups have described Liu as "far left of the mainstream" and "unfit for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench because his statements and record demonstrate an extreme liberal agenda that he would impose from the bench."

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