Sen. Jim Inhofe tells Newsmax that President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, is not qualified for the post and says he would participate in a filibuster to prevent her confirmation.
But he also admitted that she will likely be confirmed, with support from some Republican Senators.
The Oklahoma Republican also describes Solicitor General Kagan as “very liberal,” but says she would not upset the liberal-conservative balance of the high court.
First elected to the Senate in 1994, Sen. Inhofe is the Ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.tv, Inhofe was asked why he became the first Republican to come out publicly against Kagan’s nomination.
“This would be the first judge nominated to the United States Supreme Court in 38 years that has never had any experience in the judiciary,” he says.
“She’s never sat on a bench before. The last one was [William] Rehnquist and that was 38 years ago.
“I think the person should have judicial experience, but that wasn’t the killer issue for me.”
Noting his opposition to any plans to bring terrorist inmates at Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. for incarceration or trial, Inhofe says:
“One of the issues that bothered me a lot is that she has the position that once a person has been tried in a military court, then that person should have the right to come to the United States in our civil court system, and that could act as an appellate court. I don’t agree with that. She does. And that’s a very liberal position, in my opinion . . .
“Let’s keep in mind that Obama was going to nominate someone who’s very liberal. Fortunately this person will be replacing [John Paul] Stevens, so it’s not going to change the four or five [vote] decisions. Nonetheless I think she is one I would expect him to nominate.”
Asked point-blank if Kagan is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, Inhofe responds: “No, I don’t think so.
“I came out the day after she was nominated, looked back and studied my records when I voted against her confirmation as Solicitor General. And at that time I didn’t think she was qualified even for that position — and certainly she would not be qualified in my opinion for the United States Supreme Court.”
Inhofe says Kagan’s opposition to military recruitment on campus when she served as dean of Harvard Law School demonstrated a “disdain for the military.”
And despite claims to the contrary, Inhofe said, Kagan did bar recruitment during the one-year period when it wasn’t against the law to do so and still qualify for federal funding.
While serving in the Senate, Barack Obama was one of 22 Democrats who voted against the confirmation of John Roberts for a Supreme Court post. In light of that, Inhofe was asked, why should Republicans now support Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
“Well, this Republican is not going to,” he tells Newsmax.
“I think all but seven of the Republicans voted against her confirmation for Solicitor General. So it will be interesting to see those individuals who voted against her there, how they could turn around and vote for her now.”
Inhofe doesn’t think opponents of Kagan will have enough votes to support a filibuster of her nomination.
“I think it would be very difficult,” he says. “I would say, though, that I feel it would be appropriate, after what [Democrats] did on the other side, to go ahead and do a filibuster. And if we do one, I will participate.”
Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled climate-change legislation on Wednesday, seeking a 17-percent reduction in U.S. carbon pollution by 2020 and over 80 percent by 2050.
But Inhofe says “it’s dead. It’s cap and trade. They’ll try to say no, it’s not cap and trade, but it is.”
The legislation would result in a “very large” tax increase for Americans, Inhofe says, but he adds:
“I promise you it’s not going to pass. I don’t think they have more than maybe 26 votes out there, and of course they need 60.”
Inhofe also warns that some environmentalists who lobby against offshore oil drilling will try to use the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to bolster opposition to drilling, but he asserts that “these people wanted to stop it anyway.”
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