Tricky Situations

Mark Kleiman says:

If Jon Kyl carries out his threat to filibuster Obama’s judicial nominees he’ll put some of his colleagues in a tricky position. Graham, Snowe, Collins, and McCain were all members of the Gang of Fourteen, whose statement said “Nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances.”

This is actually not that tricky. If Senators want to hypocritically violate the spirit of the “Gang of Fourteen” compromise they’ll pay no political price for it whatsoever. That’s just the way the world works. A clever person can find some rationale, nobody who pays attention will really buy the rationale, and no swing voters will really care.

I think that for completely independent reasons it would be very difficult for the GOP to succeed in maintaining filibusters against Obama’s nominees. It’s important to Sens. Collins, Snowe, and Specter that they’re seen as pro-choice and sometimes secure support from liberal interest groups. But that’s separate from saying that fidelity to the spirit of an old compromise will stop them from filibustering.