Kerry, Graham differ on Supreme Court debate’s effect on possible climate bill

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) offered somewhat different views Monday about whether Senate debate on a Supreme Court nominee could hinder their effort to move climate change legislation.

Kerry flatly rejected the notion that Senate consideration of President Obama’s upcoming choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens will affect the bill, which Kerry plans to unveil next week with Graham and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

“We are capable of doing more than one thing at the same time around here,” Kerry told reporters as he exited a meeting with Graham and Lieberman in the Capitol Monday evening. “I think the President will pick somebody without a lot of conflict, I am confident, and I think we will do more than one thing,” he added.

But Graham said the Supreme Court debate could hinder the effort to move the energy and climate bill this year.

“It depends on who [Obama] picks. If he picks somebody that is going to be controversial yeah, if he picks somebody that is genuinely believed to be acceptable to a wide range of people, no,” said Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

A controversial nominee “would make it harder. It would take more time,” he added.

Graham said two of the potential Supreme Court nominees – appellate judge Merrick Garland and U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan – would be “pretty good choices.” Graham said he was not familiar enough with the work of appellate judge Diane Wood, another potential nominee, to offer an opinion.