GOP Senators: Filibuster of Supreme Court nominee 'unlikely'
By Matt DeLong
To the surprise of no one, the announced retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens was a hot topic today on the Sunday talk show circuit. Republican senators took to the airwaves to say that, while they are not taking any options off the table, a GOP filibuster of President Obama's eventual nominee is "unlikely."
During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) repeatedly stressed that he voted to confirm Obama's last high court pick, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. However, Alexander didn't rule out a possible filibuster if the president chooses someone from "the fringe instead of the middle" or who would apply their feelings instead of applying the law. Asked if he would support a filibuster of any of the potential nominees believed to be on Obama's short list -- which according to the conventional wisdom includes Solicitor General Elena Kagan, federal judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano -- Alexander responded, "I'm not about to start picking nominees I would reject before the president even makes one."
All of the candidates commonly mentioned as Stevens' potential successors are "nominally qualified" to serve on the high court, said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on ABC's "This Week." Like Alexander, Kyl declined to take a possible filibuster off the table, but said that scenario was "unlikely" except under "extraordinary circumstances."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), appearing opposite Kyl, said the chances of a GOP filibuster are "tiny" because it is "just about a certainty that [Obama] will nominate someone in the mainstream." Schumer criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for trying to move the court "far to the right." He said that he would like the new justice "to be one of the five" on the majority, and the nominee should be someone "who would be quite persuasive to the other justices."
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, predicted that Obama's nominee will be confirmed before the the high court's new term starts in the fall. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee's ranking member, said that whether or not the GOP filibusters Obama's nominee is up to the president. He echoed the sentiments of his fellow Republicans, warning that if the pick falls outside the mainstream, "every power should be utilized to protect the Constitution."
April 11, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Supreme Court
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