McConnell Doesn’t Rule Out a Kagan Filibuster

On Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not rule out the possibility of a filibuster of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination (see HERE for a summary).  Quoting Sen. McConnell:

I have never filibustered a Supreme Court nominee. It is possible, but entirely too early to know whether that would be appropriate….  The option is open under the Senate procedures, but to predict that that might happen at this stage of the game is entirely premature.

While Sen. McConnell, then, seems at least open to the possibility of a Republican-led filibuster, recall that at least three of his Republican colleagues — Sens. Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Jon Kyl — have tamped down talk of a filibuster (see HERE and HERE).

Sen. Collins:  “At this point, I do not see the extraordinary circumstances that I use as a standard to determine whether to filibuster a nominee.”

Sen. Kyl:  “The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances, and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that.”

Reminder:  Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings begin next Monday, June 28.

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2 Responses

  1. Ken Rhodes says:

    This is purely Politics 101. McConnell raises the spectre of the dreaded filibuster, sowing the seeds of doubt in the minds of White House staffers who are supposed to walk Kagan’s nomination through with a minimum of fuss and bother. In return for subsequently promising not to do what he was never going to do anyway, McConnell extracts some concessions from the White House on one or more totally unrelated issues, which were his real target all along.

    There is a downside to this tactic, though. McConnell has apparently underestimated some of his Republican colleagues, who don’t approve of making a priority-one issue of every Democratic proposal, even the ones that tend strongly towards the center. Perhaps they remember the words of UNC coach Dean Smith: “If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.”

    In this case, I think McConnell has followed the boilerplate script without realizing how it insults the intelligence of both his peers in the Senate and the American public, most of whom see through it.

  2. Bryan Gividen says:

    Ken, I think you attach too much deviousness to the Senator. While it is possible that is going on, I think it is much more likely that the Senator simply means what he is saying: I don’t know if I’ll filibuster, but there remains some possibility I will. He even starts with, “I have never filibustered a Supreme Court nominee.” (If memory serves me right, that means he didn’t oppose Ginsburg, Breyer, or Sotomayor and the Republican nominees.) This seems like a non-story to me – it’s akin to being agnostic as to Elena Kagan’s credentials.