The Republicans are going to make a stink out of anyone he nominates - they are going to be trashed as liberal and out of the mainstream, etc. He might as well actually get someone liberal rather than some milquetoast centrist that will pull the court further to the right and still be tarnished as a left winger.
I say let the Republicans fight. I know the legislative agenda for the rest of the year is packed, but are Republicans really going to want to stand in the way of financial regulatory reform and jobs bills? And even if Obama appointed a 'confirmable' nominee, does anybody think we're actually going to see a cap and trade or immigration bill passed this year?
Rather than avoid a fight, Obama should look for one. Rev up the base - the Republicans are already revved. If the Republicans filibuster, it just adds weight to the idea of filibuster reform (which should be issue #1 in 2011 if the Dems want government to function).
Harold Koh, Gordon Liu, Diane Wood, Pam Karlan, and Kathleen Sullivan would be good choices.
The court is 7-2 male...Wood, Karlan and Sullivan would add more needed gender diversity.
Koh or Liu would add the first Asian American to the court.
Sullivan would be the first openly gay nominee...let's see the right explode over that.
Also, with the exception of Wood, all these nominees aren't serving on courts now. I think it's important to have some diversity of experience. Every current SCOTUS member had been on a court prior, many having been prosecutors before.
Kagan is someone I don't want to see replace Stevens. She's young enough and centrist enough and without a long paper trail that she'd be an ideal appointee a few years from now should Obama get the chance to replace a conservative member of the court down the line. But to have her replace Stevens would in all likelihood pull the court further to the right. Why waste the 59 votes we have? Force them to filibuster!
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