The Work Ahead

Politico reports that the GOP has a “passion problem” when it comes to nominee Elena Kagan — apparently, when Republicans can’t be bothered to filibuster a qualified Supreme Court appointment, or take the opportunity to warn about the immediate danger posed to your life by the marriage of two men you’ve never met, something’s gone amiss. Lord knows how they’ll muster the courage to obstruct Obama’s nominees to the lower courts!

Taking Politico‘s point as true, though, and ignoring the massive havoc the GOP’s managing to otherwise inflict on the federal bench (100 empty judgeships is no small accomplishment), there are three potential explanations for Kagan’s easy confirmation: first, the “culture war” is a luxury, and people have other things to worry about. Second, the GOP’s last attempt to stall a Supreme Court nominee ended in tacky, conspicuous embarrassment, and revealed an intellectually (?) exhausted base. Third, and most likely, the party realizes just how little is at stake here.

From the conservative perspective, Kagan’s nomination will not alter the composition of the Court. In fact, Obama is unlikely to do so this term. Both of his appointments have, so far, merely held the line against a runaway Court bent on rolling back years of judicial progress. With the next likely departure, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court’s liberal rearguard will lose a jurist whose seat can be filled, but whose voice cannot be truly replaced. After three nominations, and one term in office, Obama will have done nothing but preserve the status quo.

Necessarily this means the real battles are ahead. We’re two years away from the next general election, but it’s never too early to remind ourselves of what’s left to be done.

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