May 2, 2009

GOP Outraged by ... Whatever

Republicans see Obama's nomination of ... anyone ... for Justice Souter's seat as outrageous, divisive, activist, pick a negative adjective.

The merits of this summer's choice are irrelevant. Facts, law, intellect, these things don't matter. Republicans want to attack anything that is not Republican.

As Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny write today:

The nation’s capital geared up Friday for a battle over a Supreme Court vacancy that appeared likely to test President Obama’s success at skirting divisive social issues, with conservative groups saying they viewed the opening created by the retirement of Justice David H. Souter as an opportunity to regroup after a series of political setbacks.

Obama need not fear the Republican attack machine regrouping. Or be cowed into nominating someone who is only sort of into the rule of law and protecting liberties.

He should appoint a Laurence Tribe, Diane Wood, Kathleen Sullivan, or Cass Sunstein.

Obama ought to antagonize and declare war in effect with the GOP slime machine.

It doesn't matter. Republicans are dogmatic bad actors and will attack anyone. So stick up for liberty and intellect and have some fun.

By the way, the coming fight will see many of the same actors in the last spectacular Supreme Court fight that saw the nominee bite the dust, Robert Bork in 1987.

Joe Biden, who was the ambitious Senate Judiciary Committee Chair in '87 is vice-president now. Sen. Arlen Spector who crossed party lines to vote against Bork and engaged in some of the most dramatic and substantive examnation of a nominee ever, has now crossed party lines again.

Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy and all those civil rights-loving women and blacks and Hispanics will be back.

Some works on Supreme Court fights and rightwing judicial dogma: The New Right v. the Constitution by Stephen Macedo and Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America by Ethan Bronner.

From Macedo:

"When conservatives like Bork treat rights as islands surrounded by a sea of government powers, they precisely reverse the view of the Founders as enshrined in the Constitution, wherein government powers are limited and specified and rendered as islands surrounded by a sea of individual rights."

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