I had been on vacation for the last several days, so I missed this little nugget when it first surfaced last week:
Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.
Kyl, Arizona’s junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.
“He believes in justices that have empathy,” said Kyl, speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Phoenix. The attorneys group promotes conservative legal principles.
Kyl said if Obama goes with empathetic judges who do not base their decisions on the rule of law and legal precedents but instead the factors in each case, he would try to block those picks via filibuster.
That would be the same Jon Kyl who, as Steve Benen pointed out, supported the “nuclear option” back in 2005 to do away with the filibuster regarding judicial nominees. It would also be the same Jon Kyl who explicitly argued that junking the filibuster would in no way ever hamstring Republicans because they would be too principled [PDF] to ever even try to use it down the road:
My friends argue that Republicans may want to filibuster a future Democratic President’s nominees. To that I say, I don’t think so, and even if true, I’m willing to give up that tool. It was never a power we thought we had in the past, and it is not one likely to be used in the future. I know some insist that we will someday want to block Democrat judges by filibuster. But I know my colleagues. I have heard them speak passionately, publicly and privately, about the injustice done to filibustered nominees. I think it highly unlikely that they will shift their views simply because the political worm has turned. So I say to my friends: what you say we Republicans are losing is, in fact, no loss at all.
And while we are on the subject of right-wingers suddenly changing their tune regarding judicial nominations, I found this rather amusing:
But Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative activists who have weighed in on Supreme Court appointments, warned that judicial nominees similar to Marshall and Brennan would face strong opposition.
“Outside groups will always push to the extremes to get people who would be turning back the clock to Brennan or Marshall,” said Miranda.
That would be the same Manuel Miranda who has been a one-man right-wing judicial confirmation army ever since he lost his job on the Hill after accessing internal Democratic memos. Miranda was the primary force behind just about every right-wing “grassroots” effort to force the confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as their effort to compel Harriet Miers to withdraw her Supreme Court nomination. So it’s pretty interesting that he’s suddenly concerned about “outside groups” pushing “extreme” nominees … and even more interesting that he’s now quite concerned that Obama’s nominees will “turn back the clock.”