Speculation and Fallout on President Obama's Supreme Court Pick

Now that Justice Stevens has made it official that he will be resigning at the end of the current term, Barack Obama gets his second opportunity to make a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court.  And the speculation is as rampant as the implications are huge.

Most of the early suggestions seem to point to Obama going back to his "short list" from his pick last year, which resulted in Sotomayor's nomination.  The high profile names on that list are Solicitor General Elen Kagan and Court of Appeals judge Diane Wood.

Of course the timing couldn't be worse for Senate Democrats, who are
already weary of political combat in the aftermath of ObamaCare...which
came in the aftermath of the fight over the stimulus, etc.,
etc....which means that the Democrats in red/purple states that are up for re-election this year aren't too keen on having Obama pick anyone
deemed "too radical".  They see it as adding one more log to the fire of increasing conservative opposition and activism.

But from Obama's standpoint, he's surely considering that the Republicans are likely to make some pretty big gains in the Senate this November, meaning that, if he really wants another radical liberal (of course), now's the time to nominate them, rather than go with a moderate now to satisfy some Democrat senators.

If he was willing to throw down the gauntlet on something as radical as taking over much of health care in America no matter what impact it would have on Democrats in Congress, (instead of spending 2009 focusing on the economy), you have to figure he's willing to go full speed ahead with a radical liberal pick to the high court.  The damage to the Democrat majority is probably already a done deal.

All of which means it will be another politically cantankerous summer.

As for the implications, they're huge, just as they are with any other Supreme Court pick.  In this case, the pick is to replace long time liberal Stevens, which means Obama's pick won't likely change the rough 5-4 moderate conservative bent of the Court.  However, it will likely put another radical liberal in that seat for the next 30 years.

When it comes to issues that will be impacted, of course there are the usual things to be concerned about, such as abortion related issues, but the primary new concern is the impact on pending court cases by state governments against ObamaCare.  Which will make the coming Senate confirmation hearings much more interesting than usual, as debate is likely to center on principles that have been largely absent (or at least under represented) in the past, such discussions about state's rights, federalism, the national government's power (or limitations of that power) under the Constitution's "commerce clause" (and whether or not it's constitutional for the feds to order you to buy health insurance).  All are issues that are likely to help Republicans set the narrative for the November campaigns.

And what do the American people think about all of this?  Rasmussen just completed a poll and finds that 39% think that the Supreme Court is "too liberal", 25% think it's "too conservative", and 27% think the balance is "about right".  But when it comes to their opinion of Obama's likely pick, 45% believe the eventual nominee will be "too liberal" and 41% say it will be "about right".  (Of course this is BEFORE that 41% finds out anything about the eventual nominee...).

Again, it will be an interesting summer.

 

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