Republicans Turn To Fringe Groups To Oppose Elena Kagan

The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins talks to Rachel Maddow about the fringe groups that the Republicans have resorted to using to oppose Elena Kagan's
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The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins talks to Rachel Maddow about the fringe groups that the Republicans have resorted to using to oppose Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. Jason wrote about one of those characters in this article at the HuffPo.

Witnesses Against Kagan Include Head Of Conspiracy-Mad Law Firm:

On Thursday, the confirmation process of Elena Kagan will enter the stage where the Senate Judiciary Committee will entertain witnesses both in favor of and opposed to Kagan's nomination. Of particular interest is one witness who will be testifying against Kagan, William J. Olson, Esq. of William J. Olson, P.C. -- a law firm that is heavily involved in all sorts of conservative cause celebres, from the standard-issue, to the totally bonkers. Read on...

And there's more as Rachel explained in the opening portion of the segment.

MADDOW: Attorney William J. Olson. If you go to the Web site for Mr. Olson’s law practice right now, you can see that among the expertise he brings to bear on a Supreme Court nomination is his propounding of a conspiracy theory that Obama-care might secretly be a mind control plot. Mr. Olson’s co-counsel in his firm, Herb Titus, is cited in an article on the Web site, World Net Daily, that’s titled, quote, "Obama-care’s control plan: behavioral modification."

That’s the sort of thing that is being promoted on William Olson law firm Web site, because presumably the John Birch society wasn’t available to testify today against Kagan.

Today at "The Huffington Post," Jason Linkins took a deeper look into William Olson, again, one of the Republican witnesses today against Elena Kagan. It turns out he is way more kookier than just Obama-care mind control. For instance, he’s representing an organization called the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, which is worried that the U.S. government has been secretly flooding the market with gold from Fort Knox in order to keep its value low.

His law firm is also representing Daniel Chapter One, a Christian ministry that ran afoul of the FTC for running advertisements for miracle cancer cures with web headlines like, "Brain Tumor Gone!" Or as Jason Linkins puts it, "Jesus Will Cure Your Cancer with Food Supplements."

In my whole lifetime, Supreme Court nomination battles have been clash of the titans, big-hitting political battles. They’ve been the high point on the political calendar no matter what else is going on that year, even elections. And this time around, it’s really not like that.

And William Olson is what the Republican forces against Elena Kagan look like. What does that mean exactly?

Joining us now is "Huffington Post’s" Jason Linkins.

Jason, it’s really nice to see you. Thanks for being here on the show.

JASON LINKINS, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: So, Jesus will cure your cancer, search for Fort Knox gold guy just finished his testimony an hour ago. How did he do overall?

LINKINS: Well, he didn’t make a spectacular of himself. He instructed nobody to apply this cancer cure directly to anybody’s forehead. He more or less kept his comments strictly to the issue of gun control and Elena Kaman’s stance on it.

This is one of the more mainstream battles his law firm fought. He filed an amicus brief in the recently decided Supreme Court case that overturned Chicago’s gun ban. But if you dug into his background like I did, I’d say it was even money how things might have gone today.

But the entire afternoon -- and let’s remember the witness portion of these hearings is pushed back until 4:00 this afternoon. It was dispensed with very, very quickly. And he pretty much kept himself confined to the issue of gun control.

MADDOW: What do you think it means that Republicans would choose somebody with a record like his, though, to testify in a Supreme Court nomination hearing? I mean, I’m not surprised to see, you know, Randall Terry and the super anti-abortion people out there protesting. They, sort of, protest anytime anybody thinks the word court, let alone a nominee comes up.

But to have Young Americans for Freedom and the Tea Party Nation leading well-publicized events, well-publicized marches and rallies against this, to have people on the witness stand called by Republicans who are as fringe as this guy Olson -- does that his tell us something larger about where Republicans are at on either the judiciary or in their politics in general?

LINKINS: Well, a lot of these organizations, like Tea Party Movement, as you mentioned, are constantly a vent. They’re in the public square and they’re calling their representatives and senators. And they’re likely telling them that you guys had better filibuster this nomination for reasons ranging the gamut of things that we would find fairly mainstream in the context of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, to crazy birtherism like this guy Olson’s firm has sort of been a haven for.

They hear this and they have to account for it. They’ve got to bring people in so they can go back to these same constituents and give them a pat on the head and said, we’ve taken up your cause, we’ve given your ideas a fair hearing, we brought in people who represent your point of view to question Kagan.

But Kaman’s getting confirmed. There’s really -- in all likelihood -- there’s no filibuster in the offing and they know it.

So you see these -- you see these people step to the fore to question Kaman’s nomination. Tony Perkins was out there today taking up the cause of why we should keep "don’t ask, don’t tell" as a policy. Charmaine Yost was there talking about abortion.

And a number of people, including Flagg Youngblood who -- which was forename about until this week, I’m going to have to change it -- digging down into this uniquely Kagan controversy of the military recruiting at Harvard, which Kagan would argue is an example of her having to balance the interest of military recruiters on campus with a long-standing anti- discrimination policy that Harvard Law School upheld for decades.

But you’ve got to get these people come to the fore because constituents in the field are calling senators and threatening to withhold their vote and insisting that Kagan gets filibustered. But everyone is more or less aware of the reality that no filibuster is happening.

MADDOW: The thing -- the thing that’s going to be exciting to watch is when some Republicans do inevitably vote for Elena Kagan, will those folks in the base get really angry about it and hold it -- hold it against them? My guess is no. But it’s going to be, as always, really fun to watch.

"Huffington Post’s" Jason Linkins, thank you so much for your time tonight. I always really enjoy your reporting. It’s nice to see you.

LINKINS: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: Sure.

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