Saturday, October 29, 2005

Justices Alito and Luttig?


This Chicago Tribune article suggests that President Bush has narrowed his choices to replace Justice O'Connor to two, Samuel Alito of the 3rd Circuit and Michael Luttig of the 4th Circuit.

Both men would be acceptable to President's conservative base, but both would also set off a protracted struggle with Senate Democrats, who would regard each as too conservative. Of the two, Luttig has a somewhat higher profile and would probably face stronger opposition than Alito.

Either Alito or Luttig would delight the members of the conservative intelligentsia who were so disappointed by the nomination of Harriet Miers. The President, however, cannot simply please his base if he wants to succeed. He must calculate whether he will get significant opposition from the Gang of 14 (GO14). If Republicans in the GO14 would support both men and if the Democrats in the GO14 would not support a filibuster, either man will be confirmed as the Republicans have 55 votes in the Senate.

That is the President's favored scenario. An alternative scenario is that because the President has been politically weakened, a few Republicans in the GO14 would seek a more moderate nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor and would join with the Democrats to form a center coalition that would oppose the nomination. In that case, the President could not count on the support of 55 Republican votes. The key point here is that the Senators in the GO14 could, if they wanted, form the nucleus of an independent centrist powerbase that could challenge a President who is already reeling from a series of political setbacks.

The real issue is whether they will want to do this.


It can scarcely be considered an "extraordinary circumstance" when an at least nominally conservative President, with a conservative Senate, nominates a conservative to the Supreme court. Annoying as hell to liberals, maybe, but not the slightest bit extraordinary. You don't like it, try winning some elections.

I suspect the attempt to fillibuster any nominee who'd already been confirmed to the circuit court level would be regarded by enough of the Republican gang members as a violation of the pact, to make the nuclear option feasible again.

Cause I feel like I'm the worst,
so I always act like I'm the best.
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