As a Democrat, Kennedy took on Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco after the devastations of Katrina on the issue of the budget. After he became a Republican right before running for US Senate (and losing in a relatively tight race) against then-Democrat Incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu, he was a constant thorn in the side of then-Presidential hopeful and fellow Republican Governor Bobby Jindal at the height of the governor’s popularity. Again, the issue was Louisiana’s budget and Jindal’s use of smoke and mirrors.
Last fall, he won the US Senate race in a virtual landslide win with the help of then-president-elect, Donald Trump.
He has frequently praised the President on talk radio and in other media comments.
But, perhaps the tide is turning, at least, on the part of the Judicial Appointments.
WATCH THE VIDEO FROM NOLA.COM from Satan's plan, the Klan, prostitution: Watch John Kennedy question judge nominees
During Wednesday’s hearing, he questioned two nominees, Duncan and fellow appeals-court nominee, David Stras:
Sen. Kennedy: “Now, let me ask you a couple, these are not trick questions, and if you can give me a number or yea or nay, there's a couple of things I've got to get out of the record, to get, get, get, out of the way, they may seem weird to you, but based on some of the past nominees that have come before you, I feel that i need to ask
Mr. Justice, have you ever blogged anonymously, anonymously or otherwise, in support of the Ku Klus Klan.
Mr. Stras: No i have not
Sen. Kennedy: Mr. Duncan?
Mr. Duncan: No Senator
Sen. Kennedy: ok. um, Mr. Justice, have you ever described a child as part of Satan's plan
Mr. Stras: no I have not
Mr. Duncan: No Senator
Sen. Kennedy: ok. Mr. Justice, have you ever called a Supreme Court Justice, living or dead, sitting or retired, a prostitute
Mr. Stras: I have not, Senator
Mr. Duncan: No, Senator
Sen. Kennedy: Ok.”
So, what gives? Why question the two nominees about the KKK, Satan or judicial prostitution? Did any of these men engaged in any of these questionable behaviors? Why would a freshman Senator from Louisiana, who is being the top candidate for Louisiana governor to take on Democrat John Bel Edwards, should Kennedy want to do so, questioning Donald Trump’s pick about the Klan, the devil or prostitutes? Doesn’t the Senator know how popular Trump is in these necks of the woods?
The answer to the final question? Yes, he does. But something has irked him to stand up to the President, just as he stood up to the then, powerful Louisiana governors.
Slate appears to have hit on the possible answer.
Kennedy remained piqued on Wednesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on two of Trump’s appeals court nominees, Kyle Duncan and David Stras. He explained that he has withheld support for Duncan in part because of strong-arming from White House Counsel Don McGahn. As BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman reported, Duncan’s Senate questionnaire implied that Kennedy had pushed for Duncan to be nominated. But in reality, Kennedy said, McGahn called him and “was very firm that Mr. Duncan would be the nominee … to the point that he was on the scarce side in one conversation of being polite.”
Then, in a remarkable series of questions, Kennedy asked both Stras and Duncan whether they had committed the foibles of other recent nominees. First, he asked whether they had blogged in support of the KKK. (This was a reference to the fact that Talley apparently defended “the first KKK” in an anonymous message board post.) Second, he asked whether they had ever described a child as being “part of Satan’s plan.” (Trump judicial nominee Jeff Mateer used that exact phrase to describe transgender children.) Third, he asked whether they had called any Supreme Court justice a prostitute. (Trump judicial nominee Damien Schiff once maligned Justice Anthony Kennedy as a “judicial prostitute.”)
Of course, Stras and Duncan answered no to all three questions. But Kennedy wasn’t really directing these inquiries at them. He was making a point about Trump’s wackadoo nominees, putting the White House on notice that he will no longer tolerate fanatical kooks.
Kennedy’s sudden resistance to blatantly unqualified judges is a bit tardy. He already voted for Talley, Katsas, and Schiff in committee; he also voted for John K. Bush, a similarly obnoxious anti-gay blogger, in committee and on the floor. (In committee, he criticized Bush’s blog posts—then voted for him anyway.) Still, Kennedy deserves credit for finally putting his foot down. Until Tuesday, no senator had dared to break with the White House on judicial nominees; with luck, Kennedy might free his independent-minded colleagues to vote their consciences. And no senator who respects the federal judiciary could possibly approve of men like Talley, Mateer, and Schiff.