In 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was an Illinois Democrat filibustering a Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill and had a few things to say about “an unconstrained executive branch.”
In context, the fresh-faced senator was opposed to Samuel Alito, then a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor by George H. W. Bush. While unanimously rated “well qualified” to fill the Associate Justice post by the American Bar Association, he was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
During his confirmation hearings, a handful of Democrats including Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Obama attempted a filibuster to block the vote, which failed as Alito was confirmed by a vote of 58–42.
“It appears that he believes in an unconstrained executive branch and does not seem to have much concern or regard for the most vulnerable in our society,” said Obama at the time.
Now, facing a possible Republican filibuster of an upcoming nomination to the high court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the White House now advises the President regrets his 2006 decision.
“What the president regrets is that Senate Democrats didn’t focus more on making an effective public case about those substantive objections,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest this week. “Instead, some Democrats engaged in a process of throwing sand in the gears of the confirmation process. And that’s an approach that the president regrets.”