Sometimes, the heavy favorites win the horse race. According to the AP, Barack Obama will announce that he has chosen Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. That allows Obama to appoint another woman and the first Hispanic to the nation’s highest court, giving him another little slice of history:
Officials tell The Associated Press that President Barack Obama intends to nominate federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.
Karl Rove says that Sotomayor could be even more liberal than Souter, and that conservatives might feel compelled to push to block her based on her rulings from the appellate court (via Mitch Berg, from earlier this month):
Wendy Long at Bench Memos sums up in brief the case against Sotomayor as a liberal activist, the kind which Sen. Ben Nelson said he’d oppose, including this tidbit:
She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court.
I’d like to see some data on this. If true, it could hand the Republicans a pretty damning bit of evidence, assuming that they’ll even go on the warpath over Sotomayor. I rather doubt they will, for a couple of reasons. First, they’ll likely get intimidated by the Hispanic pressure groups anxious to get a seat on the Supreme Court for the first time ever (unless one counts Benjamin Cardozo, of Portuguese ancestry, as a Hispanic).
Second, and more to the point, Sotomayor has been on the public short list the entire time, and the GOP has trained its guns elsewhere. They’ve been warning more about Elaine Kagan and Diane Wood, barely giving Sotomayor any notice at all. Republicans have also focused on the executive-branch appointments of Dawn Johnsen and Harold Koh, two radical activists, during this period. That public campaign may have made Sotomayor look less radical and activist in comparison, which makes a big public push less likely to succeed.
We shall soon see. Keep an eye on reactions from red-state Democrats, especially Ben Nelson, to see if the GOP can hope to cobble a coalition large enough to keep Sotomayor off the court — and whether Obama might pick someone worse if they do.
And, again … elections have consequences. This is one of them.