Several participants confirm to ABC News that the White House held a conference call with liberal activist groups Tuesday to discuss their role in what is expected to be a protracted battle with Republicans as President Obama attempts to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kyle Barry, Director of Justice Programs at the Alliances for Justice, told ABC News that his organization and many others had already sprung into action following Scalia’s death, but confirmed that Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, and Neil Eggleston, the White House chief counsel, participated in a call with his organization and others to discuss the road ahead.
"From our perspective as an advocacy organization, it is remarkable how instantly so many groups have expressed so much interest and anxiety about what’s going to happen with this vacancy,” Barry said.
With the political leaning of the court hanging in the balance now that Scalia's seat has been vacated, interest groups invested in a wide array of issues -- ranging from immigration to gun rights to health care and beyond -- have a stake in the outcome of the pending nomination battle.
The New York Times first reported the news of the White House conference call today.
One participant who spoke to ABC News disputed the characterization of the call, as described by another participant to the Times, as a "part pep rally" and instead described it as as a briefing call to engage a broader group of stakeholders and provide talking points to rebut anticipated GOP rhetoric -- but not to proactively condemn Republican opponents.
The White House had no comment when asked about the call by ABC News.