Who didn’t see Scalito coming?
President Bush has made his latest nomination for Supreme Court justice, and as I and surely just about everyone in the country with more than four brain cells predicted, he satisfied his base and ran to the right. Samuel Alito is everything Harriet Miers is not and an obviously reactionary pick . He has more judicial experience than any nominee in 70 years. His views are so similar to those of hard-right justice Antonin Scalia that Alito has been nicknamed Scalito and already described as “too radical for the American people” by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. In short, Alito appears to be the embodiment of all the Democrats’ worst fears regarding a Bush nomination.
With Democrats almost sure to filibuster, the good news is what may have been the Bush administration’s most potentially lethal weapon in the upcoming battle – the claim that opposing Democrats are simply obstructionist partisans – was blunted by the rapid confirmation of previous nominee John Roberts. Yes, the so-called nuclear option is still out there, but with his popularity already setting record lows and the Democrats obviously willing to confirm reasonable nominees, such a drastic move may no longer be a politically viable option for President Bush.
What remains unclear in this otherwise tidy fight is where the Gang of 14 stands. The team of moderates has the ability to either prevent the nuclear option or force cloture on an up and down vote. What will they do?
Also: Shout-out to my friend Aimee, who today starts her new job at the very Supreme Court being discussed above. We can expect a report on what Souter is wearing for Halloween by this evening.