Will GOP Senators stand up against Obama SCOTUS pick?
We are probably just hours away from an announcement of a Supreme Court nominee by Obama and it's not clear at this point just how vigorously the GOP will oppose the almost certain liberal pick by the president.
This Politico piece by Andy Coller and Daniel Libit points out the differing philosophies of the Republicans and Democrats when it comes to SCOTUS nominations:
Conservatives remember Sen. Ted Kennedy's ferocious attack on "Robert Bork's America," the pubic-hair-on-the-Coke-can humiliations visited upon Clarence Thomas and the way that Samuel Alito's wife cried after Sen. Lindsey Graham recounted the Democrats' charges against her husband.
Echoing a widely held conservative belief, the Heritage Foundation's Michael Franc says the two sides just do things differently. "Liberal senators come to a battle over judicial nominations armed with submachine guns," he said, "and conservatives come with pen knives."
But truth be told, the vast majority of current Republican senators have never faced a Democratic Supreme Court nominee. In the last four decades, there have been just two Democratic nominees; Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both nominated by Bill Clinton, were confirmed overwhelmingly.
Some recent Republican nominees have had a rougher go. While John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and David Souter were all confirmed with broad bipartisan support, 52 Democrats - with the help of six Republicans - killed Bork's nomination in 1987.
Forty-six Democrats and two Republicans voted against Thomas; 22 Democrats voted against the confirmation of John G. Roberts; and forty-two Democrats voted against Alito.
Conservatives are itching for that kind of fight from their own.
But will conservatives play the kind of hardball Democrats routinely play with conservative nominees?
Kennedy and Biden hammered Chief Justice Roberts on his membership in an all-white club back in college. Alito was tarred with similiar unrelated charges. The GOP seems to believe that hearings on the qualifications of Supreme Court justices are just that - a chance to question the nominee about their judicial philosophy rather than smear the nominee personally. The case of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is instructive. She was unanimously voted out of the Judiciary Committee and won confirmation on the floor by a 96-3 count. Few doubt that she was qualified (just as no one in America doubted Roberts' qualifications) but the tale of two confirmation processes shows how the Democrats play the game as opposed to Republicans.
Will that change? I think that there will be some moderates who will hang back but for the most part, the GOP will go after Obama's nominee hammer and tongs, throwing everything at them they can lay their hands on. There is going to blood on the floor by the time Obama gets his pick through the senate.
And that's the way it should be.