Ben Buchwalter

Political Capital and SCOTUS Nominees
May 8, 2009, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Supreme Court | Tags: , ,

Ezra Klein:

I never understand the fuss over Supreme Court nominations. The president holds all the power. That’s even more true if his party controls the Senate. So when conservative groups “concede that they have little chance of derailing Obama’s choice, barring a scandal,” what does it mean? If they derail Obama’s choice, he’ll just make another choice. It’s not like defeating his first nominee would make him lose a turn, or let Mitch McConnell choose the next candidate. Bush, for instance, got beat on Harriett Miers, and then nominated a more conservative justice in her stead. The hubbub is baffling. The opposition can’t win. They can only delay losing.

I think Klein is choosing to ignore a large portion of the politics behind a Supreme Court nomination. His best point is that Harriett Miers was replaced by even more conservative justices. But – if I remember correctly – people did not oppose to Miers because she was a conservative. They opposed her because she had no relevant experience besides as a Bush lackey. And I think most people agree that Roberts and Alito, though very conservative, both adhere to a clear judicial philosophy.

Obama remains very popular. And he needs to be popular to accomplish his ambitious agenda, which includes health care reform, cracking down on offshore tax havens, and closing Gitmo. It would be a serious shame to waste that political capital on a long drawn out confirmation battle.

I’m not saying that Obama should choose a nominee based on how easily he or she will be confirmed. I’m also not saying that the crazy MSM coverage of potential nominees is justified. But his vetting team should keep in mind that the Democrats really only need a few moderate votes in order to pass the 60 vote margin that would basically guarantee the nominee’s confirmation.

So appoint an exciting nominee that will breathe some life into the Constitution and preserve  much-needed rights for women and minorities. But Obama should not be flippant in the pursuit of this candidate. Sure, Obama would get another chance if conservatives cut down his first choice. But the political impact of this will extend much past the Supreme Court confirmation battle. It could seriously impact the level of political capital that Obama carries through the year hoping to implement other essential policies.


1 Comment so far
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I think they should nominate Roberto Mendoza

Comment by Akshay

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