Has John McCain Been Inhabited By a Pod Person?

In 2005, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined 13 other Senate colleagues in forming the so-called “Gang of 14,” a bipartisan group that agreed not to filibuster judicial nominees except in “extraordinary circumstances.”  This deal resulted in the confirmation of a number of extremely controversial George W. Bush nominees, including Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit (one of four judges put on that court by President Bush).  Since then, Brown has been a stalwart conservative vote on the D.C. Circuit (see, e.g., this recent decision), a court that is heavily dominated, 9-5, by Republican-appointed active and senior judges.  And Senate conservatives, led by Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), have been doing everything they can to keep it that way.  

Which is why it was particularly refreshing when Senator McCain stated this past June that all three of President Obama’s pending nominees to the D.C. Circuit — Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Robert Wilkins — deserve up-or-down confirmation votes on the Senate floor.  In other words, that none of them should be filibustered, and each considered on his or her merits.  As Senator McCain further noted, “Elections have consequences.”

However, in floor votes over the last two weeks, someone who looks like Senator McCain and calls himself Senator McCain has voted to filibuster Millett and Pillard, and is likely to do the same when Wilkins is considered later today, supporting Republicans’ efforts to deny each of these highly-qualified nominees the up-or-down vote that McCain himself had previously stated each one deserves.  Apart from reneging on his words, this John McCain has not even tried to articulate what “extraordinary circumstances” exist that could possibly warrant such obstruction of these highly-qualified nominees under his Gang of 14 standard. 

Which leaves us to wonder — has the real John McCain been inhabited by a pod person?