President Barack Obama was in full attack mode Tuesday against Senate Republicans who want to block his opportunity to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia–until he had to respond to a question about his own efforts to delay a Supreme Court appointment in 2006.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that the Senate won’t vote on a replacement until after the presidential election. The White House and Senate Democrats have called for filling the vacancy immediately. Democrats have tried to label Republicans as obstructionists who put politics above constitutional obligations.
“I am amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there,” Obama said Tuesday during a press conference.
Then came a question that changed the context of the issue.
“How do you respond to Republican criticism that your position is undercut by the fact that you and other members of your administration who were in the Senate at the time tried to filibuster Judge (Samuel) Alito in 2006?” a reporter asked the president. Obama was among 25 senators who sought to filibuster Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court due to his conservative views.
Obama then changed his tone.
“You know the a, look, I think what’s fair to say is that how judicial nominations have evolved over time is not historically the fault of any single party,” Obama replied.
“This has become just one more extension of politics. And there are times where folks are in the Senate, and they’re thinking as I just described primarily about, ‘Is this gonna cause me problems in a primary? Is this gonna cause me problems with supporters of mine?’ So people take strategic positions, and I understand that,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Western Journalism.