Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 11, 2010

GOP POINTS TO 'TINY' CHANCE OF FILIBUSTER.... Speculation about how the Senate may respond to a Supreme Court nominee that hasn't even been chosen yet is, by definition, premature. But Republicans nevertheless are weighing the larger context while crafting a strategy.

The NYT reports today that Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement "presents a test" for Republicans. On the one hand, they want to keep the right-wing base fully motivated. On the other, some Republican leaders "said they were reluctant to give Democrats further ammunition to portray them as knee-jerk obstructionists." And picking a fight over ideological/cultural issues shortly before the elections doesn't strike many GOP leaders as a wise approach.

So, what's the plan? At this point, apparently, it's to downplay the possibility of a filibuster. Here's ABC's Jake Tapper's report from today's edition of "This Week."

Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl told me that his party will never take the filibuster option off the table when considering a Supreme Court nominee, but that it would only be used in "extraordinary circumstances". During my "This Week" interview with Senator Kyl and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both Judiciary Committee members indicated that a filibuster would be unlikely. Schumer added that every indication was that the President's choice would be in the mainstream, making the chance of a filibuster "tiny".

For Kyl, then, who said filibusters of judicial nominees were unconscionable and unconstitutional during the Bush/Cheney era, the tactic is on the table, but unlikely to be used.

How gracious of him. Given that he would probably need all 41 Republican senators to refuse to allow a floor vote in order for such a gambit to succeed, Kyl isn't really in a position to saber rattle effectively anyway.

For what it's worth, Tapper also brought up the names of the four most talked about potential nominees -- Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Appeals Court Judge Diane Wood, Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano -- and sought Kyl's reaction. All four, the senator said, are "nominally qualified," adding, "It is unlikely that here will be a filibuster unless it's an extraordinary circumstance."

Steve Benen 10:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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"It is unlikely that here will be a filibuster unless it's an extraordinary circumstance."

Such as what, the sun rising?

Posted by: martin on April 11, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

The phrase, "horse's ass," comes to mind. So do a few others. Choose your own ...

Posted by: BigRenman on April 11, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

As we work our calendar into the merry months of spring 2010, Republicans can reinvent themselves from the knee jerk naysayers, the they want to kill your grandma, the death panels will work for fascism, socialism, communism to take away your guns Party of last summer into a party of some credibility by stepping up and really coming through for our nation.

To do so, Republicans will need to represent themselves with the dignity deserving of an international peace treaty ratification and a Supreme Court nomination process, and not allow themselves to get caught up in making the Senate look silly!

For the sake of November Senatorial Republicans, don't let David Vitter try to take the moral high ground of obstructionism - he may end up wearing diapers on this one! Don't let Pete Sessions utter a word! Don't let Minority Leader McConnell get in front of a microphone or TV camera!

Probably more advice to give, but all elected Republicans should realize by now the interweb thingy works for us voting commoners, and we are watching! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 11, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the second part of that plan to declare any Obama nominee as outside the mainstream and an extraordinary circumstance? I sense another Lucy vs Charlie Brown moment coming on.

Posted by: Sandtress on April 11, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

It is unlikely that here will be a filibuster unless it's an extraordinary circumstance.

Translated means we'll have to wait for the Beck/Limbuagh/Hannity/Foxnoise take on the candidates you mention. Expect to hear the ACA and repeal to be the underlying objective here, along with usual social issues of abortion, family values, and teh gays. Forget Napolitano, since by extension she's never been married or had children and would not have an understanding of "family values" and may actually be teh gay, although the type they enjoying paying to view.

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Of course they're saying only in "extraordinary" circumstances. The press will eat it up. We'll get several weeks worth of stories about how Republican's are planning to be nice this time around. How the only way the process could get bogged down is if Obama goes too far out of the mainstream. It's all set up.

That way when Republicans inevitably scream foul the 'liberal' press will say its because Obama picked a way to liberal candidate. The press and the Republican's will make Obama look like the bad guy.

Remember this kind of tactic only works because the 'liberal' media makes it work.

Posted by: thorin-1 on April 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Filibuster or not, Repubs will take this as another opportunity to run down Obama and Democrats at large. I mean, they're already warning that he'll nominate a liberal which we know is anyone to the left of Roberts and Alito.

Posted by: beep52 on April 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"nominally qualified" = can fog a mirror

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on April 11, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

What thorin-1 said.

It's so transparently predictable as to be laughable. Cue Clive Crook (or whoever) getting ready to say, "Republicans signalled a willingness to co-operate this time, but when Obama nominated a divisive figure like [Kagan, Garland, whoever], they really had no choice but to filibuster. So it's Obama's fault."

Posted by: Basilisc on April 11, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Charlie, Lucy has the football all teed up.

Posted by: Dale on April 11, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Two words: Nuclear. Option.

Posted by: Joe-Z on April 11, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I hope that President Obama nominates a full-throated Antiscalia-with an emphasis on the grace that Scalia so conspicuously lacks. If the Republicans filibuster, then make a recess appointment and let fifty Democrats plus Vice-President Biden modify the cloture rule when the new Senate convenes in January, then give the recess appointee an up or down vote on confirmation.

Posted by: John in Nashville on April 11, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the Democrats should just publicly remind people at every opportunity that the Republicans, in large numbers, said that filibustering a Supreme Court nominee is unconstitutional under any circumstances, with no exceptions. They should then get specific, saying things like:

"On [date], Senator Jones eloquently laid out his reasons for his belief that a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is unconstitutional. Senator Jones is an honorable man, and it would be insulting to suggest that he did not mean what he said, or that he was making the argument for political purposes. At least a dozen other sitting Republican senators made similar statements. Therefore, it would be a cynical insult to these honorable men and women to suggest that a filibuster is a possibility, because it would require them to go against deeply felt principles".

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 11, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

And the worst part is that Obama is likely to nominate someone who's to the right of Stevens, and the nominee will still be attacked as too liberal.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 11, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

And the worst part is that Obama is likely to nominate someone who's to the right of Stevens, and the nominee will still be attacked as too liberal.

That, of course, is the other part of the set-up. By redefining what 20 years ago was considered 'mainstream' into 'liberal' the Republicans and press allies keep moving the country further to the right. And the Democrats go right (pun intended) along with them.

Posted by: thorin-1 on April 11, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Right. The translation is, if the GOP thinks it can deliver a political failure to the President (never mind what's good for the judicial branch), then anybody he nominates will be declared "out of the mainstream" and they will threaten a filibuster, out of the belief that the Democrats will not force them to go through with it. Doesn't matter who the nominee is. It's a political calculation, not ideological.

Posted by: Algernon on April 11, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

here is the republican definition of "extraordinary circumstances": obama picked the nomination

republicans WILL filibuster whomever obama picks, or threaten sufficiently so obama caves withdrawing his (planned) nominee in favor of a republican-picked solidly "conservative" justice to SCOTUS

Posted by: zoot on April 11, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'd love to see him nominate Dawn Johnsen.

Posted by: CWC on April 11, 2010 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

They are lying when they say that there is only a "tiny" chance of filibuster. There is a 100% chance of a filibuster. They are only saying that there is a tiny chance in order to score rhetorical points when the inevitable filibuster comes. They'll say: "We didn't want to have to filibuster, but sadly, Obama gave us no choice when he selected an extremist."

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

And what about the Blue Dog Dems who won't support a candidate who supports a woman's right to choose? The Republicans know they have a good chance of dragging the choice rightward because of the flaming idiots among the Dems.

Posted by: ghillie on April 11, 2010 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what's going to happen: Ben Nelson will get three new Air Force bases in Nebraska and we'll end up with some center-right nominee, a la Anthony Kennedy, not a single damn Republican will vote for them anyway and Fox will still accuse Obama of "forcing the nominee down our throats."

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Posted by: Debt Relief on November 1, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK
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