Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) predicted on Sunday that the president would have his replacement choice for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens confirmed through the Senate by the time the Court reconvenes in October.
“There is no question,” said the Vermont Democrat. “It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.”
Appearing on “Meet the Press,” Leahy predicted that a nominee for the Steven’s seat would be announced shortly because, as he put it, “we would like to get this wrapped up this summer.”
The remarks were the first in what seems likely to be a predictably partisan and heated debate surrounding the second of President Obama’s Supreme Court picks. On Sunday, several key Senators took to the airwaves to lay down the framework for the nomination process. Republicans, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) refused to rule out filibustering the president’s choice, with the Tennessee Republican pledging to use the parliamentary maneuver “if the president picks someone from the fringe or someone who applies their feelings instead of applying the law.”
But even Alexander acknowledged that the talk of a filibuster right now was highly speculative. After all, Obama hasn’t even made a selection. And even those who are on the supposed shortlist aren’t all entirely objectionable to everyone in the GOP.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Jon Kyl was asked about four potential nominees: Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, Merrick Garland and Janet Napolitano.
“They are all nominally qualified,” Kyl acknowledged. “The question, I think, to present is, ‘Do candidates like this approach judging on the basis of each case presenting its unique facts of law… rather than with a judge coming to the bench with an ideological position?’
“It is unlikely that here will be a filibuster unless it’s an extraordinary circumstance,” Kyl said, adding that: “President [Barack] Obama himself attempted to filibuster Justice [Samuel] Alito.”