On Tuesday the full Senate began to debate the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. And while the overwhelming majority of Republicans seem very proudly committed to voting against her, they should be consider what kind of precedent they're setting.
When it comes to the president's Supreme Court Nominees, Sonia Sotomayor might be the most palatable option he ever gives them.
Assuming he has the chance to make another appointment -- and with 89-year-old John Paul Stevens still on the bench, it's likely that opportunity will come along soon -- Republicans have given the president no reason to even consider judicial moderates.
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If all but a handful refuse to vote to confirm a judge whose rulings were, with extremely few exceptions, pragmatic and uncontroversial, and whose worst misstep in nearly 20 years of jurisprudence was what she said in a few speeches, it's probably accurate of Obama to conclude that they are simply not interested in approving any of his nominees, regardless of their position on the political spectrum.
So bring it on, Barack! The day that Justice Stevens says he's retiring, trot out the most bleeding heart judge you can find: a good old-fashioned hippie with sterling intellectual credentials and an unrepentantly liberal outlook on abortions, unions, you name it. Helpless Republicans will call this person a judicial activist, and they'll be right, but they would call Antonin Scalia a liberal who legislates from the bench if Obama nominated him.
It's hard to see what the Senate minority is going to gain from their boneheaded votes against Sonia Sotomayor. They're not going to kill her appointment, and they're going to turn off one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States.
Sure, they'll save themselves the grief of being shouted down by "the base" (packs of angry wingnuts) at local town halls when they go back home for August recess. But they've probably just turned back the calendar on their party's political comeback for another couple of years. And by refusing to play ball with Obama on this nomination, they've given him zero reason to compromise the next time around.