Conservative Convergence = Liberal Freakout, Cont’d
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog writes about how Brown’s election may indeed rattle the Executive Branch if Justice Stevens retires:
[W]hile most legislative observers will be watching for signs of trouble for health care reform and energy legislation, the processing of nominees to the federal courts will be another arena of likely difficulty.
And the next ten months, of course, is the time span during which a Supreme Court vacancy may well occur. If bipartisanship has any meaning any longer in the Senate, perhaps the President could find nominees who may have some appeal with moderate Republicans. That almost certainly would translate as nominees decidedly more moderate in their views than the President’s first choice for the Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has taken a place comfortably in the Court’s liberal wing. It might even be doubtful that a nominee with views aligned closely with those of Justice Stevens could get confirmed.
With President Obama still having three years to go in his term, Republicans who might be bent on obstructing any Court nominees would probably not be able to hold out long enough to prevent a centrist nominee for the Court from finally getting through. But a nominee with an identifiable liberal record may well be doomed (assuming that the White House has any lingering interest in that type of choice).
Per Lyle’s forecast, however, Brown’s election could very well result for the GOP in a case of “be careful what you wish for” should Stevens step down this summer.
To be sure, without 60 guaranteed votes, Obama may move away from choosing a nominee with the liberal record of Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit. But then again, if he chooses her–a natural heir to Justice Stevens–and the GOP as a result holds up a Supreme Court nomination through November, the Democrats will more potently than ever be able to paint the 41-person GOP minority as an obstructionist, nihilist, and extremist Party of No.
In other words, Obama may be wise to continue with his next nominee as planned–if indeed he planned to pick a proven liberal–just to show that when given a high enough platform and just enough rope, today’s GOP will hang itself.