The Aspirations of Sen. Jon Llewellyn Kyl

Caught between his constituents, his President and his aspirations, Jon Kyl walks an ominous tightrope.
It has become a matter of speculation, so rampant it has taken on a life of its own. We repeatedly hear the question, “What could Kyl be thinking?” Those inquiries swirl around Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and his strident support of what he unfailingly refers to as, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
Would he favor the illegal marchers who thronged to his office last year, bringing traffic on two major thoroughfares to a standstill? His conservative base of support was dependable in bringing him a victory over self-financed, multi-millionaire developer, Jim Pederson, who gave Kyl a roller-coaster scare.  Where would his allegiance lie?
During that 2006 campaign, Kyl promised to secure the border.  Many of us took him at his word.  He’s been  reliable as a conservative stalwart until this leftward lurch that has broken some of his strongest intra-party ties. As the “architect” of the current amnesty–a word he disdains–plan, he has staunch Republicans scratching their heads in bewilderment.
The answer to this intriguing question could lie squarely on the shoulders of a frail U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  John Paul Stevens, born in 1920, is staring ninety in the eye.  Speculation has long been that Kyl covets a seat on the nation’s highest court.  Sooner rather than later would be best, since Kyl is now 65, and the trend is to appoint younger justices with more years to serve. Chief Justice John Roberts was 50 when appointed and Samuel Alito, 55.  Clarence Thomas was a mere 43 when appointed by Bush the First. Of the nine current Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the oldest appointee when Clinton nominated her in 1993 at age 60. The youngest Justice ever appointed was 32-year-old Joseph Story, in 1812.  Horace Lurton, the oldest, 65 at the time of his appointment in 1909, served only 4 years. Story served for 33 years.
Although Kyl practiced law and lobbied for the prestigious Phoenix firm of Jennings, Strouss and Salmon from 1966 to 1986, he hasn’t been inside a courtroom in decades.  He’s likely banking on that not being an issue. Dubya’s gratitude would be the more formidable component in this mix.
So Kyl continues to be the good soldier, saying the things engendered to endear him to the loosely wrapped White House, which is spiraling into more abysmal poll numbers with each passing survey.
He writes chatty letters to constituents and My Turn columns in the Arizona Republic, detailing his conservatism and the fact that this is not the bill he would have written if Republicans were in the majority.  The problem is Senator, Republicans were in the majority for years. Yet, the border was never secured and our sovereignty and national security in these very precarious times remain in peril.
“Reforms,” according to Senator Kyl, “are the first step to fixing the border.”  Many disagree with you.  Actual enforcement of current laws and undertaking the construction of the fence is where we begin. Last year, a scant two months after voting to build 370 miles of new fencing along the border, the senate defunded the project. 
Prior to last fall’s election when Republicans were facing precarious reelections in their home states, Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, authorizing construction of 854 miles of such fencing.
At the signing, Bush said, “We have a responsibility to address these challenges. We have a responsibility to enforce our laws. We have a responsibility to secure our borders. We take this responsibility seriously.”
Once elections were guaranteed, the dialogue changed. And the same Kyl, who campaigned with Arizona sheriffs of both parties, pledging to secure the sieve-like  border, is now crafting crafty legislation along with Ted Kennedy.
This easy duplicity is the problem with six-year terms.  It would also be the reason to find a more trustworthy replacement for Justice Stevens when the time comes.


  1. Villanova says

    Frightening thought. A Republican betrayer on the Supreme Court.

  2. He’d trade the security of the nation for his ambition?

    I’ve always been amazed at the people that vote their pocketbook (see democratic/union playbook) as opposed to the strength of their country. Very sad, indeed.

  3. Villanova says

    After being the architect of Shamnesty, he could have a difficult time getting reelected. Of course, that’s SIX years away. Being a justice on the US Supreme Court is quite an honor and is definitely a policy-making position. Being one of nine decision makers instead of one of 100 has its appeal.

    If this scenario did indeed play out, which Democrats would oppose him? He’s one of them! Plus, he’d be a short-termer.

  4. There is no way this is Kyl’s motivation. He knows he is not going to be the next nominee, even if Bush does have another crack at it. Kyl has two things going against him, his age and his gender. The next nominee will be much younger than Kyl, and will likely be a woman.

  5. Or Hispanic.

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