ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — The White House said Friday that Republican opposition to considering President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court is motivated entirely by party politics.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest chided Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina over recent comments. He said Cornyn's suggestion that the nominee will be treated like a piñata suggests Republicans will tear down any nominee rather than consider that person's credentials.
Earnest said their comments prove that the Republican position is unprecedented and rooted in the fact that Obama is a Democrat.
Earnest said Obama is still reviewing candidates. He said it's possible that the announcement of Obama's nominee won't come until after Obama travels later this month to Cuba and Argentina.
The spokesman's remarks came hours before a conservative group announced that it is financing a television ad attacking one of Obama's potential nominees for her handling of a child pornography case a decade ago when she was a public defender in Iowa.
The commercial by the Judicial Crisis Network hits Jane Kelly, now a federal appeals court judge, and underscores the hardball tactics being employed before Obama even reveals his pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The spot criticizes Kelly for her defense of a man facing child pornography charges who authorities said had previously admitted to molesting a young girl. A newspaper account at the time said Kelly told the judge the man wasn't a threat to society.
"Tell your senator Jane Kelly doesn't belong on the Supreme Court," the ad says.
Liberals have called the criticism of Kelly a cheap shot because public defenders take difficult cases as part of their jobs.
The ad is running in states including Iowa, home of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. Democrats have criticized Grassley relentlessly in recent days for saying his panel will take the extraordinary step of not holding hearings no matter who Obama selects, and the ad could help take political pressure off him.
The spot will also be shown in North Dakota, West Virginia, Indiana and Colorado — all represented by Democrats — and in Washington, D.C.