A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE…. A talking point emerges.
…Republicans are eagerly pointing out that Barack Obama, while in the Senate, voted to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito to the court.
Well, that’s at least accurate. Obama, as a senator, declined to filibuster the Roberts nomination, but opposed cloture on the Alito nomination. On this point, Republicans are not lying or playing fast and loose with reality.
That said, this stroll down memory lane may not be as fruitful for the GOP as they’d like. For one thing, Obama, right around the time of the Alito hearings and floor vote, made a variety of comments that Republicans may find interesting. For example, he told ABC News in January 2006, “[T]here is an over-reliance on the part of Democrats for procedural maneuvers and mechanisms to block the president [on judicial nominees] instead of proactively going out to the American people and talking about the values that we care about. And, you know, there’s one way to guarantee that the judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court are judges that reflect our values and that’s to win elections.”
For another, the more Republicans focus on Obama’s efforts during the Bush years, the more it’s a reminder of their own efforts during the same period.
In 2005, many Republican Senators went so far as to claim the filibuster of judicial nominees was unconstitutional. Now four year later, with President Obama’s first Supreme Court appointment looming, will they remain consistent in their position or commit one of the most blatant acts of hypocrisy in the 220-year history of the United States Senate?
I seriously doubt it. Media Matters assembled quite a list of quotes from prominent Republican senators — all of whom are still in the Senate and will be voting on Obama’s choice — arguing that filibustering a judicial nominee isn’t just wrong, it’s literally unconstitutional, at odds with the accepted norms of American government, and a tactic that tears at the heart of the legislative process.
I don’t doubt that Republicans will shamelessly pretend none of this ever happened, and will pretend they never said the things they really did say, but I’m looking forward to the rhetorical acrobatics.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ken.) said in May 2005, “The United States Senate faces an unprecedented crisis brought on by the minority party. Judges who have been nominated by the President of the United States to the federal bench have been held up by a filibuster and cannot get a fair up-or-down vote…. We must not let the minority party circumvent the Constitution, and take away the right of the President to have his judicial nominees voted on by a simple up-or-down vote.” There are nearly identical quotes from 28 other sitting Republican senators.
How does one get out of that now? I’m sure they’ll think of something, but will they be able to say it with a straight face?