There is not yet a vacancy on the Supreme Court but the second-ranking Republican in the Senate is already planning a strategy of opposing President Barack Obama’s potential nominee.
Jon Kyl (R-Az) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Republicans are prepared to fight a nominee who might stick up for the little guy, a position he called “overly ideological.”
Kyl had decried the use of the filibuster when Republicans were in the majority. “It’s never been the case until the last two years that a minority could dictate to the majority what they could do,” Kyl said in 2005.
Since Democrats were the first party in decades to use the filibuster to block a judicial nominee, Republicans are within their rights to continue to use it, according to Kyl. Democrats blocked George W. Bush’s nominee, Miguel Estrada in 2001.
“It is wrong and it shouldn’t be done but I think you would agree if only one side is permitted to do it — the Democrats and not the Republicans — you have a very unfair system,” Kyl said Sunday.
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa) thinks there’s a better chance for consensus next year and worries that a nomination fight this year would mean gridlock in the partisan Senate.
“I think we need someone who will step into Justice Stevens’ shoes, who will be very tough on the issues of executive power,” Specter said. “A federal court this past week declared the warrantless wiretapping unconstitutional. I think we need the kind of balance that Justice Stevens has provided to offset the majority on the court which is in favor of executive power.”
“I am a little troubled by what Arlen said,” Kyl responded. “Don’t have somebody coming in with preconceived attitudes. I’m going to be tough on the executives or I’m going to be for the little guy, we’ve had too much of that.”
While speculation has been mounting for months that this might be his last session, this weekend Justice John Paul Stevens told the New York Times he has not yet made up his mind. He will turn 90 this month.
This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast April 4, 2010.