Chief Justice Roberts
This is a great move by the president, and the Supreme Court will thus not lack a leader come the middle of the month. It does make the next nomination marginally more difficult, but a Judge Luttig or a Judge Garza, or a Judge Jones would be worth fighting for (my order of preference), and Senator Brownback as a nominee puts a conservative’s conservative on the court with little static from Senate Democrats bound to clear the way for one of their own.
There is one compelling reason for the president to nominate Luttig over the others –he and Judge Roberts are old and close friends. The advantage of placing such a pair on the court at the same time is not only the incredible energy that friends would bring to a task, but also the candor that comes along with years of friendship. If the left was in listening mode they would understand this: Each would act on the other’s opinions to assure that both understood the law at issue. As is the case, old friends can speak in blunt terms and say the toughest things with a smile. If you are interested in the law guiding the court, not politics, the appearance at the same time of two great legal minds who are also close friends should be extremely attractive to you.
Anyone who expects the president to nominate a “moderate” in order to appease liberals doesn’t understand the president or liberals. He won’t do it and it wouldn’t satisfy them anyway. Consider the absurd attacks launched on the president all last week. A political opposition so full of bile would find a way to condem the nomination reincarnation of William Brennan.
One of the great advanatages of extremism is that it makes negotiating with its followers as irrelevant an exercise as trying to understand their “logic.” As long as the Democratic Party allows itself to be guided by extremists, it commits itself to the margins of American political life.