We don’t know who she or he is yet, but I’m guessing the list of qualifications, in order of importance, goes something like this:
1) Reliable leftist. True believer in abortion rights, gay marriage rights, activist government intervention to right the various wrongs people suffer, etc. Not some cypher who’s going to reveal his true colors when it’s too late the way Souter did.
2) Young. The younger the better. Robers and Alito are going to be there a good long time, and this new judge had better last at least as long.
3) Not a white, Christian, heterosexual male. A female Hispanic would be ideal, but they can be flexible, but a Hispanic man, black woman or white (preferably Jewish) woman would be the next best choice. A black man would do in a pinch, because everybody knows Uncle Thomas doesn’t count. A gay justice of either sex would be swell, but Obama is a cautious guy, so this probably isn’t in the cards just yet. Maybe when Ginsberg retires.
4) Nothing that will block confirmation. After all the tax-evading cabinet nominees, the President has probably learned his lesson on vetting.
5) Eminent jurist.
Now, before the attacks start, let me say, I freely acknowledge that Bush was on pretty much the same page with #1 and #2. He wanted a solid conservative, and he wanted him/her young and healthy. I’m not saying Obama is a bad guy because he wants to do the same thing for his side. It’s just smart politics.
It’s also sad that the Court has been so politicized that this is what it comes down to: my forty-something true believer against your forty-something true believer. I don’t see a way out of the situation, and I’m not expecting Obama to fall on his sword and appoint some 65-year-old judge who worships at the altar of The Law instead of The Left.
I’m not even going to pillory his nominee on this blog. What would be the point? I know the kind of person he’s going to nominate — and the Senate is going to confirm — and I accept it. I knew we’d lost this round in the Culture War last summer when I watched with sick fascination and horror the American Cicero seducing the nation.
We let ourselves be seduced. Now we’re going to get screwed.