Archive for Sunday, April 11, 2010

Obama emboldened for another court pick

April 11, 2010

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— Emboldened by success the first time around, President Barack Obama is likely to pick the Supreme Court nominee he wants and let the confirmation fight proceed from there, putting huge emphasis on a justice who would bring a fight-for-the-little-guy sensibility to the job.

President Barack Obama speaks about the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and the West Virginia mine tragedy Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

President Barack Obama speaks about the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and the West Virginia mine tragedy Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

Politics will certainly play into Obama’s calculus: He no longer has the votes in the Senate to overcome the delaying tactic known as the filibuster, and a minority Republican Party in fierce opposition to Obama’s agenda has little incentive to hand him a win just months before House and Senate elections.

But Obama’s strategy worked when he chose Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter last year — announce the criteria he deems the most vital for a nominee, vet the nominees with no embarrassing gaffes or leaks, and pick the one with whom he feels the most comfort.

Confirmability was a factor then, not a driver. Expect much the same now.

Obama’s task is to replace the liberal lion of the court, Justice John Paul Stevens, who on Friday announced his coming retirement.

In quick succession, Obama has a rare chance to choose two justices who could shape the court’s rulings for decades. He has given every sign that he approaches this decision the way aggressive coaches prefer to call strategy — playing to win, as opposed to playing not to lose.

In choosing a nominee over the next few weeks, Obama is inclined to stick with his formula of going all in, like he did in getting a health care reform law, the biggest and most consuming fight of his presidency. The view from the White House is that the president is almost certain to face a political and ideological fight in this election year no matter whom he nominates to the court; the only issue is to what degree.

So why scale back?

What’s more, Obama has shown an aggressive streak when it comes to the nation’s highest court, one sure to shape his thinking in picking a nominee.

Obama openly criticized the court for a January ruling that allowed corporations to spend freely to influence elections. And he did that during his State of the Union address with six justices sitting in front of him, drawing a rare, dismissive reaction from Justice Samuel Alito, one of the court’s conservative members.

Stevens had strongly dissented in that corporate-friendly campaign finance case, saying it did nothing less than threaten “to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.” And Obama all but referenced the court ruling when he said from the Rose Garden on Friday that he is poised to choose a nominee who “like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

It is this criterion — Obama has called it empathy, or seeing life and the law through others’ eyes — that defined his choice of Sotomayor.

It seems sure to do so again this time, inviting a political fight.

Sotomayor’s confirmation itself was, for the most part, a hardened partisan battle. The vote was 68-31, with Democrats unanimously behind her and most Republicans opposing her choice and Obama’s judicial standards. Yet not lost in all that was that nine Republicans voted to confirm Sotomayor.

Confirmation itself would require a simple majority. And while senators take their “advise and consent” role seriously and members of the president’s own party don’t like their votes taken for granted, Obama clearly enters the process in a strong position, unless surprising questions emerge about his nominee’s record or behavior.

Barring that kind of trouble, Obama’s biggest risk is choosing someone that so riles Republicans that all 41 unite against him or her.

The Sotomayor experience gives Obama a head start in other important ways.

Many candidates have been vetted, and a few were even interviewed last time. So the White House already has its list of names under consideration. The confirmed number is about 10, and it is likely only to shrink, not grow.

The three names that come up the most are Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appellate judges Merrick Garland of Washington and Diane Wood of Chicago.

Comments

Seth Peterson 5 years, 1 month ago

He's trying, but you keep turning all his offers away. Much like the man on the roof during the flood you can't see past the fact that the help needed is not what you were expecting.

Your lack of comprehension of the world is only dwarfed by your inability to learn from it.

Obama has been given the opportunity to clean up decades worth of messes and havoc that has been wrecked on our economy, the middle class and the country in general since before (and accelerated by) Reganomics, Clinton oversight and the Bush Dynasty.

If you got in the boat and helped paddle, rather than throw rocks at those trying to help you while you shout maniacally with spittle dripping down your chin that the sky is falling you might be able to get to higher ground where you will not drown.

grammaddy 5 years, 1 month ago

Nice post Ludus, but Nancy-Tom doesn't want that mess cleaned up. He enjoys wallowing in it

grammaddy 5 years, 1 month ago

BTW I hope he picks another woman! Elena Kagan would be wonderful!!

grammaddy 5 years, 1 month ago

BTW I hope he picks another woman! Elena Kagan would be wonderful!!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

And the republicans are already sharpening their knives and NONONONONONONO rebuttals to ANY person selected.

This is the core value of the republican party, sara palin said so

NONONONONONONONONONONONONONO!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>and furthermore

NO!!

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

I wonder how much the pay-to-play for a seat with the Supremes is going to be? It's the Chicago way, don't you know?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

Last I heard, Dear Leader's illegal alient aunt was still out of work. Maybe he could nominate her.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

libby, at least that would get her off the welfare rolls.

Seth Peterson 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank God, and for which he is entirely happy about. :)

Scott Drummond 5 years, 1 month ago

One of the consequences of the last Presidential election. Elections matter. Perhaps you right wingers should have placed your trust in someone other than a coke-addled dry drunk. Poor old John McCain might have stood a chance. At least until he picked the half-governor.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 1 month ago

"Obama’s task is to replace the liberal lion of the court, Justice John Paul Stevens, who on Friday announced his coming retirement."

Only in today's fascist environment would Stevens be called a liberal lion. He is not.

Seth Peterson 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes as mentioned before, coming onto the board 35 years ago as a staunch republican it goes to show how far that party has moved towards fascism (especially recently) that one of their former leaders is now considered a gasp liberal by being (like our president) only slightly "left" of moderate on a few issues.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 1 month ago

William Brennan was a liberal and a lion. Justice Stevens is neither.

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