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. Todd

    Mark, B'ham., Al. – The courts did not make gay marriage or abortion "law". They merely said banning them violated state and the US Constitution, respectively. The US supreme court found abortion was protected by the US Constitution through a persons right to privacy. Read the 9th Amendment to the US Constitution. There are many good books out there which explain the difference between striking down a law as violating a constitution versus making something law.

    May 3, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. gl, Pittsburgh

    Jane – I got news for you Michelle spend her own money not like weak nutting Sara Palin who juse the RNC money to travel and buy her
    $150,000 worth of clothes. Michelle Obama have class and style. You nutting Republicans tried to sale to the American People Sara Palin better know as the Jerry Springer Family. So if you want to talk about anybody, why not Sara Palin on a Reality Show.

    May 3, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. Robert

    I am and have been Independent for some time. I like what I see in Obama and don't give a rat's rear what ANY Republican has to say. It is clear they ALL belong in the funny farm for not facing up to the fact THEY caused this mess and for 8 years DID NOTHING so to paraphrase others ......GO WAY AND SHUT UP.

    May 3, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. rob

    Kathleen Sullivan would make a great Justice of the Supreme Court

    May 3, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Michael

    Actions speak louder than words. Until now it has been nothing but payback for having won the election.

    May 3, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. ActivistJudge

    Suck it up Goopers. If anyone is getting payback it's us on the left. You spent the last 20+ years stacking the SCOTUS with right wing idiologues and now you whine and cry when we finally get a chance to start balancing out the high court. Grow a pair.

    May 3, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Denise

    So Shelby says. He cannot speak for the others.

    May 3, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Republican from Alerbami

    I believe everything Shelby says.Hes such a nice guy.

    May 3, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Rob

    I don't even know what to say anymore. The GOP playbook is this...

    When they are in power they do not care one bit about bipartisanship. They do what they want and they do not care at all if the Dems don't agree.

    When they are not in power they constantly complain about how the Dems are doing what they did when they were in office.

    It is sad to think that Republicans in general are stupid enough to buy these arguments and not see how ridiculous it is for the GOP to complain about anyone not being bipartisan.

    May 3, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Maria from Florida

    Don't forget that Shelby led the ridiculous and divisive"Obama isn't a citizen campaign". He is taming his rhetoric but carries nothing but contempt for the Democratic party and President Obama.

    May 3, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Patsy Madison, TN

    Sen. Shelby is just like all the other right-wing republicans. They want judges like Roberts that lean all the way to right, but democrats cannot have a left-leaning judge. The country needs more balance on the courts, and that means more left-leaning judges or all of our rights will be taken away. The GOP is waiting in line to reverse Roe.

    May 3, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. Dave T

    The Democrats won the election in 2008. As the gop likes to say, elections have consequences. I am hoping that one of those consequences is the nomination of a young, strong liberal woman who will make what's left of Scalia's hair stand on end and make Roberts sit whimpering in the corner.

    May 3, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. TXGB

    It was interesting to see Pres. Obama's views on picking a judge. And Richard shelby says that "jude should be one who administers and not invent the law and should abide by the consistitution". I think that a judge should be one who explains the law and the consititution and administers it as it should be applied to a specific case in hand while upholding the fundamental rights of both the perpetrator of the crime and their victims.

    Law cannot be black or white BUT should be gray to be fair to all parties involved. I hope that the President and the lawmakers leave aside their partisan views on this issue in the interest of delivering justice in all its fairness to all and pick a person who can deliver on that.

    May 3, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Lori

    @ Bill- Down at the Bayou: I expect obama will be looking for some mixed Negro-Caucasian woman to fill the sear of retiring justice Souter, and it would help if she was in this country illegally and on welfare.
    Ladies and gentlemen, Bill is officially what is left of the Republican party. Enough said.

    May 3, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Gary from illinois

    If you beleive that then i bet you think the gop had nothing to do with the mess were in now. Irag war for oil, wall street mess thanks to republican graham. How dumb are the american people to ever vote for a republican again. They stole our country in Florida(2000) and in (ohio) in 2004. Nothing but lie after lie from then evil corporate prostitutes. Rep. care about money and the people they can fonicate. to get more money. Nothing will change until we can destroy the republican party once and for all. I doubt if CNN will publish this because there as bad as the other corporations.

    May 3, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. truthsayer

    Its hypocritical that the GOP who picks only conservative idealogues, would try to dictate the same to President Obama. Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Roberts are as far right as can be and they were all nominees of Repub presidents

    May 3, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Jeff W.

    Payback for what? Payback for being elected the president of the United States by the majority of people? This is all so silly because regardless of how petty and obstructionistic the Republicans want to be, at the end of the day Obama will put a Democrat in there. I still can't believe that Clarence Thomas made it through after his despicable behavior.

    May 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. C W

    President Obama, unlike the previous occupant of the White House, actually knows and understand the Constitution, having taught Constitutional Law. I trust his judgment in nominating to the Supreme Court someone equally capable in interpreting this foundational document.

    May 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. justin did the GOP put rightwingers on for 20 years when Clinton was in there for 8 of those? BTW all of this arguing over Republican payback or obstructionism is stupid...they can't do it! They only hold 40 Senate seats...they might as well just stay at home. Let the Dems drive the car of the cliff

    May 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Joanna

    I am sure whom ever Obama picks the GOP will NOT like. That is pretty much a given. But we know how the game is played. Obama should pick an ultra liberal judge to balance out the ultra conservative judges. The GOP simply doesn't get it. They are NO longer in power. They act as if they are relevant and think Obama should pick one from there team.. They are really funny.

    May 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Jason

    Noam Chomksy!!

    May 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Rick James

    The republicans are so funny. They had no problem putting in conservative idealogues but then say Obama should put in a "pragmatic" justice (ie. moderate to conservative). And of course he isn't a payback type of guy. They don't have enough votes to fillibuster an Obama pick.

    May 3, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. C W

    Richard Shelby has no credibility. He continues to imply that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, proving he is a typical Republican, intent on bringing down our country by promoting fear and ignorance.

    Why people give him air time is beyond me.

    May 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. truthsayer

    John King the Republican enabler should try asking some tough questions of the Repubs every now and then

    May 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Chuck

    I love you liberals. You've had the right to complain for years and did so, and now you complain anytime the GOP says a word that they are whining. GOP ignored you the last 8 years, so why don't you do the same now that you have the power? If it's because you're trying to distract the public from the terrible job your Congress and the President's staff is doing, you're doing well.

    105 days: $35 billion bailout; 30K jobs lost; company sold to Italy...just an example of how these change policies have helped one industry...

    May 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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