From ABC News:
In a press statement, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy urged his fellow lawmakers to operate in a bipartisan manner. “In exercising their important roles in the confirmation of the next Supreme Court Justice, I hope that all Senators will take this opportunity to unify around the shared constitutional values that will define Justice Souter’s legacy on the Court.”
For his part, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell released an even tempered statement on the upcoming vacancy. A Supreme Court nominee needs to be able to fulfill the judicial oath of applying the law without prejudice, and not decide cases based on their feelings or personal politics,” he said in a press release. He also vowed “to ensure that their record is thoroughly reviewed and that there is a full and fair debate.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus called upon President Obama to appoint the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice noting, “Though we make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, less than 4 percent of the federal judges are of Hispanic descent and not one has served on our nation’s highest court.”
In a segment on the PBS Newshour show, New York Times columnist David Brooks agrees the next nominee will probably be a woman, but cautions against picking a liberal lion that will galvanize the base. He cites the successful nomination of then-Judge John G. Roberts, who though certainly a conservative, has a more conciliatory style and thus was a much more confirmable nominee.
He also suggests that we should not simply think of the next appointment as simply one liberal replacing another, because the more important thing is that he has a chance to pick someone who will likely remain on the court for a generation.
First, the average Supreme Court justice now serves over 26 years, so Souter was a liberal vote for the next few years, but Obama has the chance to pick someone who will be a liberal vote for 26 years. So that’s just the long term; that’s what makes it a big deal.
And then the second question is, what kind of liberal vote is the next going to be? And a lot of people are saying it should be a liberal Scalia, someone who’s just hard-hitting, straightforward arguments.
But you could have more a liberal John Roberts, somebody who is more conciliatory, but maybe a better coalition-builder. So you’ve still got choices there. And… it’s probably going to be a woman.
Other pundits, bloggers and various advocacy groups also weighed in on what Souter’s departure means.
Ben Smith says he suspects “Obama will be tempted to pick one of the prominent legal minds whom he knows personally, and whose philosophy he likes, given his own engagement with legal theory.”
Matthew Franck at the National Review’s legal blog bench memos urges Senate Republicans not to filibuster Obama’s nominee because “not only hypocritical after so many GOP senators professed their opposition to it while George W. Bush was president. It’s also just plain wrong. Supreme Court nominations deserve an up-or-down vote.”
The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way released the following statement:
To fill Justice Souter’s seat on the Court, President Obama should nominate someone who can continue his work to defend our personal freedoms and ensure that every person has equal access to justice. Our country needs another jurist who appreciates the impact that the law and the Constitution have on every American, not just a few.
Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin posted GOP talking points on her blog and advises her readers to gird their loins for the upcoming battle over the nomination. The talking points are essentially right wing attacks against those reportedly on the Obama shortlist, including former Harvard Law School Dean and newly confirmed U.S. Solicitor General Elana Kagan, Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Pamela Wood.
The Heritage Foundation derides Obama’s empathy standard and instead wants the president to consider the umpire standard invoked by then-Judge John Roberts. Heritage praised Roberts’ analogy because an umpire “doesn’t bend the rules for the game, but just calls them as he sees them; someone who offers no favoritism depending on who is at bat.” The empathy standard, says Heritage, would invite a judge to go beyond what the law requires.
Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group, posted audio clips of Rush Limbaugh speculating on what to anticipate over the next few weeks.
Limbaugh: “Sotomayor is Puerto Rican, this is going to make the Mexicans and the Cubans angry”
Limbaugh says he doesn’t know what court Sotomayor is on, but parrots GOP talking points to attack record
Rush: “[W]acko fringe nutcases from the blogs” will pressure “Obama to pick somebody like Ward Churchill”
Limbaugh on what Obama is looking for in a Supreme Court justice: “We need a teenage single mother, who’s gay, is a lesbian, who’s dirt poor, African-American, and disabled”