Friday, April 9, 2010

Your SCOTUS Fight Scorecard

For all your news and analysis on Justice Stevens and his replacement, it's good to keep in mind the four sources I go to for Supreme Court news:
It's worth noting some of the more out of the box suggestions today for replacing Stevens from these sources other than front-runner Elena Kagan, and they include arguments for everyone from Hillary Clinton, Harold Koh, and Deval Patrick to Greenwald's argument that just about anyone on the list other than Kagan will work.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are already dropping hints that they will filibuster, starting with Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., raised that specter today, saying that, "in truly truly extraordinary cases, I reserve the prerogative to vote no on confirmation or even to vote to deny an up-or-down vote."
However, Greg Sargent says the GOP is bluffing.
Sure, there will be lots of pressure on the GOP leadership from the activist base to obstruct Obama’s pick, no matter who it is. But my bet is that only those who are in serious Tea Party pander mode (see DeMint, Jim) will mount a serious filibuster push. There will be an “effort” to round up support for a filibuster, and then it will become clear that there isn’t enough support for it.

That isn’t to say that a sizable bloc of the GOP caucus won’t vote against Obama’s pick in the final up or down vote. They very well may do just that, as they did against Sonia Sotomayor. But it’s easier for Senators to vote No on the final vote — when passage is a foregone conclusion — than it is for them to support a genuine effort to obstruct a SCOTUS nominee on procedural grounds. I just don’t think the latter is going to happen.
We'll see about that.  I personally think the Tea Party wing of the GOP will absolutely demand that Obama's appointment to replace Stevens be stopped, and that the 41 GOP Senators better sure as hell find a way to filibuster it or that anyone who doesn't will pay dearly in the polls.

As a matter of fact, I'm betting the Tea Party will be putting GOP Senators in a rather untenable position here this summer.  The litmus test will be a justice who will be the 5th vote to repeal health care reform.  Anyone who does not say with 100% certainty that they will do so will be filibustered.  And in that public relations battle, the Tea party wing will be doing quite some damage to the already wrecked GOP brand.

This one's going to be far more interesting than the Sotomayor fight.  The stakes are an order of magnitude higher.

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