Saturday, November 08, 2008

According To Arizona's Other Right Wing Nut, Jon Kyl, Obama Gets No Honeymoon


Steve Benen at the Washington Weekly keeps a careful eye on Federalist Society extremists and he noted today that Jon Kyl, the Senate minority whip under Mitch McConnell, is already ignoring President-elect Obama's plea for going beyond narrow partisanship to solve the country's problems together. Kyl, one of the most mean-spirited ideological and vicious gut fighters in Congress, is already threatening to obstruct Obama's campaign promise to move the Supreme Court back towards the political mainstream and away from the far right extremism Kyl and the Federalist Society revel in. Hissing menacingly about a filibuster, Kyl promised to derail Supreme Court nominees like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer and derided Obama's judicial philosophy:
"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.

Think about that. The second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, just a few days after the election, is already talking about blocking Supreme Court nominations that haven't been named, in response to Supreme Court vacancies that don't exist.

I'd add, by the way, that Kyl was one of the conservative Republicans who, in 2005, supported the "nuclear option," which would have declared that filibustering a judicial nominee was against congressional rules. That, of course, was when Bush nominees were in jeopardy.

I doubt many voters think too hard about the Supreme Court one way or the other. But, according to CNN exit polls, those who claimed that the Supreme Court was a factor in their decision in the presidential election, broke for Obama 53-45% and voters who called future Supreme Court appointments the most important factor went for Obama even more strongly-- 57 to 41%. The issue, of course, was central in People For The American Way's support for Obama's candidacy. Their president Kathryn Kolbert sounded a decidedly different tone than Kyl's:
“Its time to put to rest the notion that the Supreme Court is only an issue for conservatives.  This week, voters had the Supreme Court in mind when they chose the next president, and they elected someone who has said he will nominate justices who will protect their personal freedoms and ensure every American equal access to justice. They said it was time for justices who will keep faith with our core constitutional values of liberty, equality and opportunity for all. Americans said it was time for a change, time for judges and justices who will make decisions based on the law and the Constitution, not on a political agenda."

On related note, this is why it is so important to support the recount for Al Franken, an honest count for the Alaska Senate seat and the run-off election for Jim Martin in Georgia. Good outcomes would make Kyl's hysterical, reactionary threats irrelevant. The American people have spoken and they have made it clear that they want Republicans to work with Obama on his agenda. They didn't vote for Obama to appease the ideologues of the far right and they didn't vote to have the ideologues on the far right obstruct Obama. Kyl isn't up to re-election until 2012-- when Obama runs for his second term-- but before then every member of the House has to face the voters again, as do vulnerable obstructionist senators like Richard Burr (R-NC), David Vitter (R-LA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Kit Bond (R-MO), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and George Voinovich (R-OH).

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