Sunday, May 03, 2009

Will Obama's Pragmatism Show Up On The Supreme Court?

In five months the next term of the Supreme Court will be in session and Justice Souter will no longer be on the bench. Within that amount of time, President Obama will have chosen his replacement with the consent of the Senate and conservatives will have something new to complain about at Fox News, Republican press conferences and the rightwing blogosphere.

The likelihood of a liberal dreamboat such as Justice Albert Gore is far less than slim, much closer to "not a chance." No, the President is a pragmatist and the writing has been on the wall long before Barack went to Washington. Now politics plays a role in all of this too, so Obama will choose someone that is not going to get many complaints from what is left of the moderate conservatives (like Republican Democratic Senator Arlen Specter) or even the typical Republican Senator that is to the right of Specter but to the left of say, someone like Jim DeMint. That is why I think Esquire nailed it several months ago before Obama was elected President.

From Esquire Magazine:

If Obama becomes president, his first nominee to the Supreme Court will likely be Sonia Sotomayor. As a Hispanic woman with 16 years of court experience, Sotomayor would slay two of the court's lack-of-diversity birds with one swift stone. "These are criteria that matter these days. Even Laura Bush was disappointed that her husband didn't name a woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor," says Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard. And because Sotomayor has a reputation for staying behind the scenes and sits on a federal bench known for its centrism, it's likely that she would be able to garner a two-thirds majority in the Senate, even if the Democrats only control an estimated 55 or so seats. Plus there's an insurance measure if the nomination gets too politicized publicly: Sotomayor was appointed to the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush. Says Tushnet, "If you're a Democratic strategist, you can gin up ads that say, 'She was good enough for George H. W. Bush. Why isn't she good enough for Mitch McConnell?' "
Now there are even more Democrats in the Senate, making confirmation far easier when you have Merkley, Hagan, Franken (hopefully soon) and other more liberal newbies who will support the President while their predecessors might not have. However, that partisanship might not even get much play with someone like Sotomayor (even if the nominee isn't ultimately her). Republicans would love to rail against hardcore liberal, but chances are, Obama won't give them the opportunity.