Why The Smart Money’s on Sotomayor
posted at 8:45 am on May 4, 2009 by Kid from Brooklyn
Sun Tzu had this to say regarding tactical considerations:
After the Cabinet fiasco, President Obama needs to score an easy confirmation somewhere. It is pure folly to just expect Obama to beclown himself in a Supreme court nomination process, given his Cabinet woes and his alleged reputation as a legal scholar (which is also at stake here). I just don’t think that this is the Supreme Court vacancy with which Obama recklessly attempts an exotic pick.
Moving forward, I expect the operating word here to be “confirmability”. As Legal Insurrection explained, 60 votes in the Senate are worth a bucket of warm spit if you can’t get your appointee out of committee (hey, Benedict Arlen finally came through for the GOP, but I digress). Thus, I don’t expect a galvanizing pick in the mold of a Koh or a Kagan. In terms of sheer confirmability, Sonia Sotomayor is the only candidate a with a clear, filibuster-proof path…and here’s why.
In order to break down the “Filibuster in Committee” strategy, we must first take a look at the GOP side of the Senate Judiciary Committee…currently comprised of Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn and Coburn. Of these, Grassley, Kyl, and Sessions voted against Sotomayor’s appointment to the 2nd Circuit, and can be expected to vote “No” now…with Cornyn and Coburn voting “Hell, No”. This leaves Hatch and Graham. Hatch then chaired the Judiciary Committee and voted for Sotomayor. Does anyone see Hatch changing his vote to “No” now that it’s a Supreme Court nomination? Yeah, me either. All this time, there’s been this Graham talk when Hatch is the real key. After all, there should be no mystery about which way Graham is going on this appointment. Anyone seriously expecting Lindsey “La Raza” McGrahamnesty to stone the first Hispanic Supreme Court appointee at the gate had better put down the crack pipe…right now. So much for filibustering Sotomayor in Committee.
When Sotomayor’s appointment to the 2nd Circuit finally went before the full Senate, she got Yays from current GOP Senators Collins, Snowe, Bennett, Gregg, Hatch, and Lugar. Add that plus Graham to 59 Democrats, and you already have 65 votes (Compared to 68 in 1998. Roll call here). So much for a filibuster on the full Senate floor.
Realistically, the only play the GOP has here is to endorse Sotomayor. Say Graham comes out for Sotomayor. Two things would happen. First, such an endorsement would preemptively shut down the grievance machine before it even has a chance to warm up. Second, GOP support would force the Left to reflexively push harder for one of the academic ideologues; thus forcing Obama to referee a left-wing interest group battle royal…which Sotomayor wins anyway lest The One risk cutting into that 67%.
Barring an exotic pick born solely out of Obamesque “I Won” hubris, I fully expect that Sonia Sotomayor will be named as the next Supreme Court appointee. I can’t see President Obama passing on the opportunity to appoint a historic “first” to the bench, and Sotomayor has enough of the treasured “empathy” Obama is seeking. I concur with Allahpundit’s assessment that she may be the most centrish-ish nominee to come from The One. I’d bet anyone a cup of office coffee that the White House has already collected Sotomayor’s signature on a Form 4506. Barring a black swan, this appointment’s a done deal. The only thing left to do is to see how the GOP plays it, and to pray for the continued health of the remaining Justices.
Update: Sessions is the next GOP Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’d be more excited about this, but it’s more of a placeholder thing until the 112th Congress is sworn in…after which, they play musical chairs. Then it’s Grassley. Both voted No on Sotomayor, FWIW.