Based on the Sunday morning talk shows, it appears that the Pickering nomination will be a donnybrook. Tom Daschle drew a line in the sand, saying: “I think this really lays bare the administration’s real position on civil rights. This exposes the Southern strategy clearly.” Maybe I’m missing something, but this seems like a good battle for the Republicans to fight. The “civil rights” case against Pickering is extremely weak, and the Democrats don’t seriously try to disguise the fact that the real reason they oppose him is that he is a conservative. I don’t think they can sell their case to the public, and they don’t have the votes to block Pickering without a filibuster, which they are threatening and which I think will make them look terrible. Also, a filibuster is a strategy they cannot repeat every time the President nominates a conservative to the bench.
Together, the Pickering fight and the University of Michigan Supreme Court cases give the Administration and the Republican Party an opportunity to stake out a position on race that is both principled and politically popular. PoliPundit linked to this Washington Post poll where the question asked was:
“In order to give minorities more opportunity, do you believe race or ethnicity should be a factor when deciding who is hired, promoted, or admitted to college, or that hiring, promotions, and college admissions should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race or ethnicity?”
The results: 5% in favor of affirmative action, 92% opposed. This poll is two years old and the results are so extreme that they may be a bit of a fluke. But there is no question that the principle of equal protection under the law is one that resonates with the American people. If the Republicans lead on this issue, the vast majority of Americans will be with them.
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