The GOP's Sotomayor dilemma

The main question about her confirmation is the choice it presents to Republicans. They are unlikely to defeat or even delay her elevation. If they mount a vigorous effort to challenge her, as some of their interest group supporters wish, they risk doing further damage to their party with the largest minority group in the country — Hispanics. The loss of Hispanic support that John McCain, by far their most credible candidate in the eyes of Latinos, suffered in 2008 as a consequence of GOP legislators’ adamant opposition to comprehensive immigration reform alarmed most intelligent Republican strategists.

While most of the organizations that purport to speak for the conservative base immediately condemned Sotomayor and called on the GOP to oppose her, I think it’s likely that many and perhaps most of the 40 Republicans left in the Senate will acquiesce to her appointment. Their initial comments were cautious. Before joining the general call for “a fair and thorough process” of examining the judge’s credentials, retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida signaled to his colleagues that they had better tread carefully…

I have to believe that many Republican senators will seize the opportunity Obama has provided and prove they are not as narrow-minded as their most extreme backers. And then hope that, like some mirror image of Souter, Sotomayor will surprise the world with some of her votes.