And it’s worth every penny the President paid for it. I think he should nominate Janice Rogers Brown to fill the O’Connor vacancy. If there were any doubt about a second vacancy opening up soon, I’d want to make sure that we got one of the most solid candidates confirmed–Luttig, Roberts, McConnell. But we know that Bush will get a second appointment soon. If Bush nominates Brown, the Dems will go stark raving mad–even more so, I think, than they would over the three favorites. If that’s possible. But their craziness would strike many people as bizarre, especially given that the Senate just confirmed Brown to the Court of Appeals a couple of weeks ago. Further, many people would notice that the last time we had one of these bouts of hysteria was over Clarence Thomas, and some would notice a pattern. (The Democrats’ attempted borking of Thomas was one of the low moments of modern political history, one that I believe nearly all thinking Democrats are ashamed of.) Brown may not be as solid and consistent a conservative as some of the other candidates, but she is very smart, and is both very conservative and very outspoken on a number of issues–including property rights, a current concern. And her character and personal history are inspiring.
My guess is that the Democrats would make fools of themselves over Brown, to no effect. She would be confirmed, and the public reaction, from the Democrats’ standpoint, would be negative. Within a month or two, Bush will have an opportunity, I assume, to nominate a second judge; he can take his pick of McConnell, Roberts or Luttig. Having embarrassed themselves over the first nomination, and having no meaningful ammunition against any of these three, the Dems would, I suspect, go down relatively meekly.
That’s a rosy scenario, I admit, and there is one potential fly in the ointment–Alberto Gonzales. There are persistent rumors that Bush is determined to get him onto the Court. Given what we know about Bush, this makes me think that either 1) the rumors are wrong, or 2) Gonzales is more conservative than we think. I simply don’t believe that President Bush would nominate a squishy judge out of friendship. He knows the stakes, and if there is one thing we know for sure about Bush, it is that he is a man of principle. Miguel Estrada would be another matter altogether, but he seems to have dropped out of consideration for reasons I don’t know.
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