Arlen Specter maybe an unknown for now, but Dawn Johnsen may also find an unlikely ally in Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.
Back in 2005, during the nuclear option imbroglio Coburn took a fairly absolutist position on the Senate’s advise and consent powers, telling the newspaper Tulsa World that no presidential nomination should ever be filibustered. “There is a defined charge to the president and the Senate on advice and consent,” he said.I have a call in to his office to see if he still feels the same way. As a member of the Judiciary committee, he boycotted a hearing for David Hamilton, Barack Obama’s first judicial nominee, last week. And one month ago he, along with every one of his Republican colleagues, signed on to a letter to the president threatening to hold or filibuster judicial nominations they’re not happy with. “We hope your Administration will consult with us as it considers possible nominations to the federal courts from our states,” the letter said.
Regretfully, if we are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states, the Republican Conference will be unable to support moving forward on that nominee. Despite press reports that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee now may be considering changing the Committee’s practice of observing senatorial courtesy, we, as a Conference, expect it to be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation. And we will act to preserve this principle and the rights of our colleagues if it is not.
Coburn is known for placing holds on reams and reams of legislation, but of making his holds public. By signing the letter, he seems to be saying that he’d revisit his filibuster policy if (and perhaps only if) Democrats stop honoring Republican holds. I’ll let you know when I hear back.