Is President Barack Obama willing and able to resist his own impulses when it comes to picking a Supreme Court nominee?
I’ve been reading the first wave of articles published since news of Justice David Souter‘s retirement broke Friday. Conventional wisdom has already been established, it seems, as far as the short list.
The usual analysis is being offered on the politics of it all: he’ll want to pick a woman and preferably a minority; those in consideration are generally viewed as liberal, but he’ll want to be careful not to give Senate Republicans red meat to sink their teeth into; he should nominate someone with serious intellectual ability but also personal political skills and dynamism sufficient to seriously shape the direction of the court, etc.
Apply whatever label you may, but Obama is a thoroughly ideological, intensely committed, doctrinaire liberal. Add to this that his background is in the law. So he is a liberal who understands the power of the law and those who wield the powers of its interpretation, and thus there must be a tremendous personal impulse for him to nominate someone who can be counted on to move the court – the country – to the left. (Souter was on the left, so it wouldn’t be an immediate shift, but it would be a new, younger, liberal member).
So, the question is, will Obama, out of perceived political necessity (more on that later), resist his own impulse to nominate a strongly ideological liberal?
There is certainly much analysis that could be done here, but perhaps only time will tell.