Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.The hub-bub in left blogistan was about Kyl's invocation of the filibuster. After 8 years of GOP screeching about "up or down votes" for Bush's appointees and threatening to "go nuclear" and do away with the filibuster all together Kyl's hypocrisy is certainly appalling but not unexpected.
Kyl, Arizona’s junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.
What I think is more important than Kyl's predictable new found appreciation for the fillibuster is which Supreme Court Justices he chose to single out. Ginsburg, a former General Counsel to the ACLU, is of course a tried and true boogie-man of the right. Also on the list is the decidedly moderate Stephen Breyer a Clinton appointee, somewhat predictable.
Suprisingly though Kyl also attacks David Souter, appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. Souter is a stereo-typical Northeastern Republican. The son of a banker he was born in Massachusetts, attended Harvard college and Harvard law. Tossing the blue blood Souter in with a former ACLU General Counsel says far more about the current state of the GOP as a national party than it does about Souter's alleged liberalism. As Andrew Oh-Willeke discusses at his blog today, the GOP has all but vacated the Northeast. With the loss of Connecticuts Chris Shay's seat last Tuesday there is now not a single member of the United States House of Representatives from the GOP. There are only three GOP Senators from the region and those 3 are the most moderate of their caucus.
There is simply no room in the modern GOP for men of Souter's temperament. Rational, logical, reasoned and of moderate temperament and politics Justice Souter is an outcast. The GOP is essentially a regional party with it's power base in the old Confederacy and some holdout rural states in the plains and mountain west.
The GOP is at a cross-roads. As Virginia and North Carolina rise up as the model of the New South - more educated, more diverse populations - the GOP base even in the South begins to shrink even more. I doubt that the GOP will go the way of the Whigs but they are today facing at least several election cycles in the political wilderness. Even if Congressional Democrats flounder it will take several election cycles for the GOP to make inroads in Congress. I'll have more on this but for today chew on the state of the Republican Party in the Northeast and how far they have fallen.