President Obama said on Saturday that a Supreme Court nominee is coming soon, but Republicans in the Senate have spent weeks working to frame the type of judicial resume that would be unacceptable on the bench. On Sunday, the GOP got what could be a bit of a boost, as a key moderate Democrat left the door open to filibustering a possible Obama Court nominee.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Ben Nelson warned the president against appointing an activist judge to replace the retiring David Souter. In the process, the Nebraska Democrat acknowledged that the scenario could present itself where he joined the GOP in voting against cloture.
"I think that's the test, will they be an activist or not?" Nelson said. "And I would hope that there wouldn't be any circumstances that would be so extreme with any of the president's nominees that the other side would feel the need to filibuster or that I might feel the need to filibuster in the case of extraordinary circumstances."
One of the key negotiators behind the "Gang of 14" compromise in 2005 that preserved the use of the filibuster and allowed several Bush nominees to go to a vote, Nelson is a veteran participant in the high-drama of judicial nominations.
Earlier in the interview, he said that as the "author of the words 'extraordinary circumstances'" - the phrase that, per the 205 compromise, now serves as a the basis of the filibuster attempt - "I do understand that there could be certain circumstances where you might vote against somebody on the filibuster."
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