Republicans have indicated that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will become the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - the committee that could eventually block President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.
Sessions replaces Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who recently crossed the aisle to join the Democrats after a long career as a Republican. Sessions has a reputation as a fiercely conservative Southern
Republican senator, and has been outspoken and adopted hard-line
stances on issues like immigration and affirmative action.
Sessions also has extensive experience as a jurist, having served as a
prosecutor and Alabama attorney general prior to winning a Senate seat
Interestingly, Sessions was on his way to a seat on the bench as a U.S.
district court judge before the Judiciary Committee rejected his
nomination amidst charges of racial insensitivity and hostility to
civil rights. Ironically, Sen. Specter's vote was decisive, as he was
one of only two Republicans who voted against Sessions' nomination.
The move signals that Republicans aren't concerned with perceptions
that their party is moving too far to the right, which was one of the
reasons Specter gave for his defection. Sessions' refusal to rule out
a Republican filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee also shows that
Republicans aren't worried about becoming known as a party of
obstructionists, even after two party-line rejections of the stimulus
and budget packages supported by President Obama that passed under the
In another ironic twist, Sessions spoke out against filibusters in the
Judiciary Committee during the nomination of now-Justice Samuel Alito,
calling them "very painful."
Apparently, his opinion has changed now that he's leading the minority party in the committee.
See Also: Conservative to lead GOP fight on court nomination (AP) Jeff Sessions Demanded Up-Or-Down Vote On Alito (The Huffington Post)