Bench Memos

“Extraordinary Circumstances”

From the letters page in yesterday’s Lincoln Journal-Star

Circumstances explained

In a July 12 letter Robert A. Wolff of Sterling said I owe it to the people to say what I consider extraordinary circumstances when it comes to filibustering a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have repeatedly made my position clear in numerous interviews with reporters since our group of seven moderate Republicans and seven moderate Democrats brokered a compromise to break the logjam on judicial nominations.

On the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Los Angeles Times quoted me as saying “If someone was committed to being a judicial activist that would raise the question of extraordinary circumstances.” There was a similar quote in the Washington Post. On Fox News Sunday another member of the “Gang of 14,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and I concurred that “Based on what we’ve done in the past, ideological attacks are not an extraordinary circumstance.” That position was restated at a news conference in Omaha the day O’Connor announced her retirement.

I will say it once again for Wolff’s benefit as he seems to have missed it in the past; philosophical views do not constitute extraordinary circumstances. I would hope Wolff would agree that the Supreme Court is no place for an activist judge.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, Omaha

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