May 3rd, 2009
10:22 AM ET
12 years ago

No payback for Obama on high court pick, says Shelby

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN Sunday his decision on President Obama's Supreme Court pick would not be affected by "payback" for the former Illinois senator's votes against Bush nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

"I’m not a payback type guy," he told John King on State of the Union. "I think you have to keep moving."

He was also pragmatic about the kind of nominee the Senate could expect to see. "I have no illusions about President Obama appointing a conservative like Alito or Roberts," he said. " But if he will appoint a pragmatist, someone who is not an ideologue, that someone is not just going to light all the lightbulbs in America on the left, I think that would be good for the country. He is very smart. He is very careful. I hope he is going to be careful in this appointment.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy suggested he knew some of the names on President Obama's Supreme Court shortlist, and planned to meet with the president this week to discuss the issue. He also said he was encouraging Obama to meet soon with leaders of both parties.

Filed under: Pat Leahy • Richard Shelby • State of the Union
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Seattle Sue

    Senator Richard Shelby aka Dr. No. from the party of No. Shelby is already explaining why he will not vote for Obama's choice for Supreme Court Justice, before he even knows who the person is. What a wonderful man!

    May 3, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Simmy

    The first of three appointments that President Obama makes (there are two more to come) should be a Latina or African American female. His second should be an anti-Clarence Thomas male. The third will be an alternate lifestyle American......

    May 3, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Curtis in WI

    So, idealogues are only okay when they are republican?

    May 3, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. gwen

    Right like all those Bush appointed weren't "lighting lightbulbs" for the far right ... we probably need a far left appointee to outweigh the damage Bush did!!!!

    May 3, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. steve b

    (Seattle Sue)

    I think you missed the point of the article, please read again and try to comprehend. What he said is quite the opposite.

    May 3, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Dan

    Seattle Sue – have you actually read the article you're commenting on? If so, you seem to have completely misunderstood it.

    May 3, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Red

    The Republican's openly admit that Bush appointed *Conservatives*...obviously with their conservative agenda....but then hopes that Obama will appoint a pragmatist instead of a liberal with an agenda *FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY*....You mean like Bush did in HIS appointments??? You're such hypocrites! Its only right when you're getting your pun intended.

    May 3, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Mike Dallas

    "I’m not a payback type guy,"

    Right, and the GOP is not a "payback" party as demonstrated by becoming the Party of NO.

    May 3, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Minnesotan

    I always laugh at conservatives ranting about 'judicial activism' when they're the ones who are the guiltiest of this crime. They'd love to rule against abortion, civil rights, gay marriage, tax breaks for the middle class and a whole litany of other issues. I'm just so sick of Republican hypocrites.

    May 3, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. redman

    Wouldn't it be funny if President Obama put a female conservative on the bench? How would the Republicans react to that? Maybe that would quiet them down a little bit but probably not because the seemingly can only find fault in everything that he does. The GOP needs to smarten up.

    May 3, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Lynn

    I doubt that Leahy and the "leaders of both parties" will have much say in President Obama's pick. He knows they are all political hacks with their own agenda.

    As the President of Harvard Law School and President Obama's former teacher stated on CNN: Pres. Obama has an excellent understanding of constitutional law and will make a thoughtful choice on his own.

    May 3, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. lieNoMore

    Dan and Steve B. maybe you should realize that reading requires more than just parsing the words and relying on glib deliveries.

    Seattle Sue IMO is referring to the ideological preconditions Shelby is setting out and this is clear –albeit subtle. You guys should learn to read AND THINK.

    May 3, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Larry - Hazleton, pa

    Whoever he nominates this repub (shelby) WILL NOT SUPPORT – I have read the article and there is a long way from words to deeds – Shel by has be a lockstep repub for his career – he was once a democrat who for political reasons changed his party affilation – He is a conservative without consoious who only follows the party rules. Maybe those who suggest that others have not read or do not understand where this man comes from should do a little reading themselves.

    May 3, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. ldk

    No payback from the GOP? Yeah, right!! We'll see...we'll see...

    May 3, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Chris


    It is definitely time for some payback.

    Unlike liberals, conservatives understand that terrorists are not going to start being nice to us just because we start being nice to them. But at the same time Republicans still have this delusion that if they are nice to Democrats, the Democrats will start being to Republicans.

    Reality check!

    Grow a backbone Shelby. The Democrats are going to accuse you of being an obstructionist no matter how much you try to "get along".

    May 3, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. TJJ

    So let me get this straight: It's OK for a Republican to put a hard right Conservative ideologue on the court, but the only acceptable thing from a Democrat is to pick a non-ideological pragmatist. Shelby, like most unfair, bullying Republicans, is so seeminlgy unaware of his gross double standard that I don't even know what to say.

    May 3, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    I hope Obama picks a liberal, just to balance off what GW BUSH did. Bush's decisions have done nothing but destroy the fabric of the middle class. The party of NO is ending up where they the trash can!!

    May 3, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. TBA

    The GOP is BSing. They will be protesting the nomination no matter what. Knowing the GOP they can't be trusted on this issue.

    May 3, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Marge

    Payback .....just another example of the juvenile behavior of the republicans in congress. Instead of focusing on trying to correct bush's mess (and their approval) of what he made of this country all they want to do is obstruct and deny anything the democrats propose.

    We see whose fault it is that things aren't getting done as quickly as they should be in congress...republicans idiotic actions.

    May 3, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. Jane

    Why would any Republican vote for any one he picked. He openly admitted that he would never, ever, vote for a Republican or any thing the Republicans stood for in his book "Audicity of Hope". Make him pay Republicans – he needs a dose of his own medicine or maybe Michelle needs another pair of $540.00 tennis shoes which the news media would not report.

    May 3, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    I'm sorry to say that abortion and gay marriage were both made law by the Court Systems whether federal or state until recently when Vermont did it the right way even if I do not agree by legislation. Picking someone on the courts, even the Supreme Court because of race, sex, religion, or life choices is wrong. The best qualified should be the choice and yes I do not think laws should be made by the courts only interpreted. If the judge wants a new law they should use the legislative system like everyone else!

    May 3, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. marcus

    lol... the republicans telling someone to NOT nominate an ideologue ? after putting borderline nazi scallia on the bench ! and clarence "the groper" thomas ! obama's supreme court nominations will be as important as anything he does during his presidency. he should start by looking at the iowa supreme court justices who were clear-minded enough to recognize that iowa's ban on gay marriage went against its own constitution. he should consider justices who recognize that torture is illegal, and those who made it government policy, should be in jail for it.

    May 3, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. az voter

    Hey look, the Republicans are changing their image. No paybacks from Shelby ? That's great ! Now if we could get all of the congressional Republicans to change their images and just disappear. Now that would be a Republican make over I could wholeheartedly support.

    May 3, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. An Independent

    Right. No payback. Of course, we already know he'll vote no, but certainly not for partisan reasons. It will only be because he'll have "serious reservations" about the qualifications and ability to "strictly interpret the Constitution" of Obama's choice – no matter who it is.

    May 3, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Margaret

    Once again republicans show their true colors - the BIGGEST hypocrisy perpetrated on the American people when it comes to the court happened when Clarence Thomas was pushed down our throats. Remember him?????? Yeah, right, republicans only want someone to "interpret the law"!!!! Remember Bush v. Gore?????? And look at what has happened to our country as a result of their "interpretation" of the law!!!! SHAME ON THEM.

    May 3, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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