Thune: A gay Supreme Court nominee ‘would be a bridge too far right now.’

Since Justice David Souter announced that he plans to retire from the Supreme Court, speculation kicked off about whether President Obama could potentially appoint the first openly gay Justice. Though Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the newly ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, says he would consider a gay nominee, Steve Benen points out that another GOP senator, John Thune, is adamantly opposed to the idea:

[C]onservative leaders have warned the nomination of a gay or lesbian justice could complicate Obama’s effort to confirm a replacement for Souter, and another Republican senator on Wednesday warned a gay nominee would be too polarizing.

“I know the administration is being pushed, but I think it would be a bridge too far right now,” said GOP Chief Deputy Whip John Thune. “It seems to me this first pick is going to be a kind of important one, and my hope is that he’ll play it a little more down the middle. A lot of people would react very negatively.”

Benen calls Thune’s declaration “transparent bigotry,” arguing that “Thune, as a practical matter, is establishing a litmus test — qualifications and merit are important, but homosexuality, regardless of any other factor, is more important. Why? Because Thune says so.”