Flashback Time With Barack Obama And Supreme Court Nominations

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 1, 2009

roberts-and-alitoAs the fallout over Justice Souter’s retirement continues and speculation increases over President Obama’s pick to replace the Justice, let’s get ready for the upcoming wave of hypocrisy.

Remember that when Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were nominated and confirmed for their seats on the Supreme Court, they had to overcome the opposition of then-Senator Obama. The future President voted against both the Chief Justice and Justice Alito, their respective splendid credentials and qualifications notwithstanding. And in the case of Justice Alito, Senator Obama actually tried to filibuster (subscription required):

Sen. Barack Obama said he would vote Monday to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but he conceded the effort would be futile and criticized Democrats for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court’s changing ideological face.

“The Democrats have to do a much better job in making their case on these issues,” Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” “These last-minute efforts–using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway–I think has been the wrong way of going about it.”

Despite his criticism, Obama announced his intention to support the maneuver designed to block–or delay–Alito’s confirmation this week. The movement, which was launched by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), appeared to lack the 41 senators needed to be successful.

Obama actually criticized the use of the filibuster, but that didn’t prevent him from participating in it. He tried to have it both ways; seeming above the rampant partisanship associated with the filibuster, while acting to appease the base of the Democratic party in anticipation for his Presidential run.

Not that this behavior was particular to the future President. The future Vice President engaged in it too:

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) said he also would vote to keep debate open Monday, but he questioned the wisdom of a filibuster, predicting it would fail.

Note as well that the future Secretary of State voted against invoking cloture on the Alito nomination, and tried to keep a filibuster going.

There are going to be a lot of people–allies of the Administration, coincidentally enough–who will try to argue that anyone opposing any eventual Supreme Court pick will be acting in bad faith. These people need to be reminded that anyone speaking on behalf of the Obama Administration in making this argument can’t be taken seriously, given what the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State themselves did in response to the Alito nomination.

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