Christy Hardin SmithCommunity

OLC And SCOTUS: Is Ben Nelson The Floater In The Political Bowl Again?

NOTE:  SCOTUSblog reports that there will be a SCOTUS announcement this morning at 10 am ET. And they seem to think it will be Judge Sotomayor. I was hearing last night from a source that Judge Diane Wood would be selected today, but my source on that was iffy. Much more to come on this, I’m sure. Stay tuned…

Far be it for me, a mere citizen, to point out the obvious.

But Sen. Ben Nelson is off message on legal issues. Again.

…on Fox News Sunday, Nelson reserved himself the right to support a filibuster of Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee. In 2005, Nelson was part of the so-called Gang of 14 senators who teamed up to end filibustering of judicial nominees except in extraordinary circumstances.

But Nelson’s predictable posturing makes it such that, even with Al Franken’s vote, the Democrats will need to find at least one Republican willing to cross the aisle vote for cloture on most of Obama’s major initiatives. And that’s a species of Republican that’s becoming more and more rare every week.

As Brian Beutler aptly points out here, the four "floaters" — which include Sens. Nelson, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter according to the Sunlight Foundation — are not exactly overwhelming odds on switch-a-roni, are they?

Bet the Democratic leadership and the Obama White House are totally on this.

Because as I wrote more than ten fricking days ago from my paltry computer in my home in West Virginia, far from the halls of power and brain-awesomeness that is inside the Beltway, Nelson has been fishing for concessions.  And using Dawn Johnsen’s OLC nomination, among many other issues, and his needed vote as some shiny object bait. 

Why, you ask?

Why in order to secure his votes for the OLC nominee Dawn Johnsen and, presumably given his tepid response on SCOTUS during his Fox News stint in the YouTube above, on any Obama judicial nominee that comes down the pike, too.

Nelson can potentially be bought.  The question is how high the price is…for now.  Welcome to doing business, Beltway style.

The Democratic leadership and the Obama legal gurus couldn’t possibly be just hoping for the best, now could they?  Because, as we all know, that Harry Reid is really a scrappy fella. And Obama isn’t one to compromise on the rule of law when it really counts.  Right?

Yeppers, just brimming with confidence this morning.

But, just in case, why not call your Senators and rattle the phone lines a bit in support of the rule of law? Just fer old time’s sake.

Because I’ve been asking around and no one has gotten any calls from the Obama White House on the OLC nod.  Not one thus far.  Isn’t that curious? 

I mean, why would you nominate someone so serious about the rule of law in an office that desperately needs confirmed leadership and reforms and then let their nomination languish?  Isn’t that a question we should all be asking?

Especially before a SCOTUS nomination gets announced.  Because we want a solid nominee, an actual strategy to ensure confirmation and maybe even some commitment to the rule of law and the constitution in the mix there, too, right?   Call me crazy, but I’m not exactly seeing one. For OLC or elsewhere.

I’m sure the media is asking the really tough, detailed questions right this minute.  And then asking really tough follow-ups.  With multi-part research backing them up.  Because the rule of law and the constitution are important to the nation’s governmental foundations, and thus something on which they’ll dig in and demand real answers.

*snerk* Oh man, I cracked myself up with that one.  I may have to join Marcy for beer thirty.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com