With the somewhat surprising retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from the Supreme Court, many in the press and the blogosphere are engaging in the "let’s guess the next Supreme Court Nominee" parlor game. Rather than dwell on who I think the nominee will be (although I did post a guess in a comment on this post), I’m going to go out on a limb and make a couple of predictions about what we can expect to see in the next few months:
1. Democrats will filibuster the nominee
Given the behavior of Democrats during the judicial confirmation process thus far it is a safe bet that they will find reason to filibuster the SCOTUS nominee. There’s much more at stake in this nomination than any other to date. Also, Democrats will be under tremendous pressure from special interest groups such as Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, the ACLU, and other groups to filibuster any judicial nominee that the President submits. In fact, I believe Democrats made a huge tactical error by filibustering judicial nominees. Supreme Court justices have far greater influence that other members of the federal judiciary. By filibustering so many of the President’s nominees to date, they’ve left themselves with no other option but to filibuster the SCOTUS nominee. As a result, Democrats will likely pay a high price at the polls next year.
2. The President will nominate a very conservative judge.
Since President Bush can count on very vocal opposition from Democrats, he’s free to nominate a very conservative judge. Although conventional wisdom has been that the President should nominate another woman to replace O’Connor or another moderate who mirrors her judicial philosophy, President Bush can be free to nominate whomever he chooses since he knows that the opposition will be fierce regardless of the nominee.
3. The President’s nominee will be confirmed.
Although the process will be bloody, Democrats don’t have enough votes to sustain a filibuster and probably won’t be able to muster enough opposition to any SCOTUS nominee to prevent confirmation. The only question will be how long the Republican leadership will allow the process to drag out. If they’re smart, Senate Republicans will move swiftly to get the nominee confirmed.