One of the key, as yet undetermined factors in whether Barack Obama will get his Supreme Court pick seated is which Republican will take over as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Arlen's Specter's defection to the Democratic Party created a vacancy in a spot that will play a crucial role in the confirmation hearings for that nomination. And with parliamentary rules allowing the GOP to drag out debate over a Supreme Court nominee in committee, the Senator who replaces the Pennsylvanian could have a major impact on Obama's choice.
On Sunday, the former ranking member, Sen. Orin Hatch, said that he would not be seeking a waiver to allow him to serve in that position once more (he stepped down in 2008 because of term limits). The Utah Republican did, however, list the three Senators that he believes will take over the post.
"[Sen. Chuck] Grassley has first choice then [Sen. Jon] Kyl, if Grassley stays on [the] finance [committee]," Hatch told ABC's This Week. "And if Kyl stays in leadership, then [Sen.] Jeff Sessions."
Asked whether he was expecting Senator Sessions to end up in the post, Hatch replied: "I don't know. I know he and Grassley are trying to work out something but we'll have to see what happens, but I suspect any of those three will be just fine."
There were no surprises in the listing of those three names. Specter's replacement will be determined by rank and other committee assignments. Notable, however, was that the list was embraced by the committee chairman, Patrick Leahy, who was a co-panelist with Hatch.
"I could work with any one of those senators," said the Vermont Democrat. "They are long time friends; we will work out things."