The Wingers and the Nominee

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | May 27, 2009 | 9:02 AM EDT

Let's make a few points early on:
1. Nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court will not change the Court because she has been nominated to replace Justice David Souter. Justice Souter, according to the NY Times, "came to vote reliably with the Court's liberal members." Judge Sotomayor, assumedly also a Liberal, would not change the 5-4 Conservative slant.
2. Unless she completely bombs during her confirmation hearings -- or, unless she didn't pay the taxes on her housekeeper or the plant lady -- she will be confirmed.
3. Therefore, the only reason for all the heavy breathing and projectile sweat from the wingers on both the Right and the Left is because nothing presents as sure a path to a great fundraising month than a fight over a Supreme Court nominee.
This is not the big fight. The big fight over the Supreme Court will come if one of the members of the Conservative wing of the Court: Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and the Court's swing vote, Kennedy should retire during the Presidency of Barack Obama.
Then a Conservative vote would be replaced by a Liberal vote and that would make a difference.
Given the Court has had a Conservative tilt for some time and that the matter of overturning Roe v Wade has not been on the docket, it doesn't matter what Judge Sotomayor's views on Roe might be. Roe is not going to be overturned anytime soon, or maybe anytime ever.
But that won't stop the Cable chat shows from trying to rev up a national argument over Sotomayor's reasoning, thinking, writing and speaking on the subject of abortion.
Republicans in the Senate will not filibuster the Sotomayor nomination - again, pending something we don't now know coming to light. Most Republicans will probably not vote for her, but that is the normal course of events in the Senate.
After Judge John Roberts wowed 'em during his hearings to be Chief Justice of the United States, the man who now sits atop the bunker underneath his house at the Naval Observatory, Joe Biden, said, in effect, he thought Roberts was qualified for the job but he wasn't voting for him anyway.
In fact, in an op-ed published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former White House Counselor Ed Gillespie reminds us that neither Barack Obama, Joe Biden, nor Hillary Clinton voted for Roberts when they were sitting United States Senators.
We should use this nomination to look at the wider matter of elections, which, you might have heard, matter.
The Republican Party is currently going through the throes of trying to figure out how it went from a dominant force in American politics to all-but-irrelevant in less than eight years.
The question of whether the GOP should be the party of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney or the party of Colin Powell and Tom Ridge is the wrong question. The right question is: How does the Republican Party find a way to build a platform which is wide enough and deep enough so that there is room for all four men - and for the millions of voters who think as they do.
If Republicans keep losing elections on principal then there will be Democratic Administrations and filibuster-resistant Senates as far as the eye can see. That means Liberal judges being nominated to the Federal bench at all levels most of whom will serve for decades and change the nature of America in ways which cannot be imagined, much less known.
No matter how well intentioned they might be, the keepers of the Conservative flame must come to realize that elections cannot be won by getting more and more votes from fewer and fewer people.
Those who will pretend to a frenzy over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor should remember that nearly 10 million more Americans voted for Barack Obama than for John McCain last November.
If the GOP wants to stop the nomination of Judge Sotomayor, they would do well to figure out how to close that gap so a Republican, not a Democrat, is sitting in the Oval Office making the choice.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today. A bio of Judge Sotomayor, a link to the Gillespie essay, and a link to the CNN page showing the popular vote totals from last November. Also a Mullfoto of the type which makes me laugh out loud and a Catchy Caption of the Day.