Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Andy Schlafly’s Oh-So-‘Rock Solid’ Analysis

Andy Schlafly is soliciting signatures for a letter to Donald Trump that sets forth Schlafly’s laughably incompetent smears of six of the candidates on Trump’s Supreme Court list—​Steven Colloton, Joan Larsen, Diane Sykes, Neil Gorsuch, Raymond Kethledge, and Allison Eid

Some observations:

1. In their book The Conservative Case for Trump, the late Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum (and Andy’s mother), and Ed Martin, president of Eagle Forum, took credit for Trump’s initial list of eleven Supreme Court candidates (pp. 62-70 (emphasis added)):

This list, which was compiled with the help of the conservative Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, the nation’s leading organization of conservative lawyers, and Eagle Forum, includes the following top-notch candidates: [The next six pages praise the credentials of the eleven candidates, including Steven Colloton, Allison Eid, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, and Diane Sykes.]

Trump’s pool of potential nominees to the Supreme Court received almost unanimous praise from intelligent conservatives….

It is to Trump’s credit that his shortlist is as good as it is.

(Schlafly and Martin published their book on September 6, more than two weeks before Trump issued his supplemental list of ten names, so that’s why it refers only to the first list.)

2. It’s of course Andy Schlafly’s prerogative to reject the judgment of his mother and of Ed Martin. But it’s passing strange that he does so in his capacity as attorney for the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, yet never mentions to the Eagle Forum affiliates whom he is soliciting that he is rejecting his mother’s and Martin’s judgment. But in his defense, perhaps he has no idea that he is doing so.

3. Stranger still is that the first signatory on Andy Schlafly’s letter is … Ed Martin. Does Martin have any idea that he is repudiating candidates who are on the list that he took credit for and whom he described as “top-notch”?

4. In his solicitation, Schlafly hilariously contends that his “research is rock solid” when it is in fact (as I have shown—see links above) beyond incompetent. If an intern ever delivered work so shoddy, I wouldn’t allow that intern to sort the office mail.

5. Without quoting or providing any links to my posts, Schlafly writes:

My critic Ed Whelan implies he doesn’t know what it means to be “really pro-life” and then continues to write about how the pro-choice candidates on the list of 21 given to Trump are somehow OK.  Ed’s legal analysis of this barely scratches the surface, and he writes at length about a non-abortion case to which I was not even referring.  

No, Mr. Schlafly, using the verb “implies” is not a license to misrepresent what I have written. I have explained why your use of the term “pro-life,” when applied to judges, is badly confused and is something that Justice Scalia (whom you say you want to have Trump “replace … with someone as close to his views as possible”) rejected. I have objected that you appear to want judges to indulge pro-life values to misread the law in order to reach pro-life results. And I have exposed the utter emptiness of your attacks on the six judges whom you smear as “pro-choice.”

I will happily leave the intelligent reader to discern whose “legal analysis … barely scratches the surface.” But it is hilarious that Schlafly, having failed to provide any intelligible account of some of the rulings he objects to, would fault me for not being able to figure out one of the cases to which he was referring—and then would still not even identify the case.

6. In a draft letter that he circulated late Tuesday, Schlafly praised Eighth Circuit judge Raymond Gruender as “an exemplary choice.” A mere two days later, Schlafly says that he has “dropped [Gruender] from the recommendation in the letter due to a personal issue that came to light yesterday.” What possible reason is there to trust the judgment of someone whose assessments are so slapdash and slipshod and unreliable?

7. Trying to pressure folks to sign his letter, Schlafly warns, “Any group that ducks this all-important issue is going to lose credibility.” He has things backwards. Any person or group that signs his letter forfeits any claim to being taken seriously.


The Latest