Should Democrats Vote For Or Against John Roberts?

From Betsy Newmark:

Democratic senators seem conflicted on how to vote on the Roberts nomination. They could oppose him in great numbers and hope that that would intimidate Bush to name someone more moderate for the next nomination. Or they could support Roberts and then oppose the second one and say, “Oh no, we’re not doctrinaire – see we voted for Roberts in great numbers. We’re just against this new nominee for good and fair reasons.” By not nominating someone already for the O’Connor seat, Bush has exacerbated their decision.

Their more extremist supporters in all the interest groups lined up against Roberts don’t have such subtleties in mind. They don’t like this guy and they won’t like the next nominee. And they won’t like Senators giving Roberts a pass.

You might say it’s the horns of a dilemma for them, especially since the public at large approves of Roberts. I wonder what game theory would tell them to do. Any experts out there?”

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From John Hawkins:

Ooooh, I’ll take a crack at it.

The problem the Democrats are having with Roberts and will have with the next nominee is that their votes are meaningless. There are 55 Republican Senators and unless Bush nominates an ax murderer, it’s going to be practically impossible to peel 6 of them off. Furthermore, since Lindsey Graham and John McCain have in essence said they’re willing to pull the trigger on the nuclear option if there’s a filibuster, that option is cut off as well for the Democrats. Moreover, the Democrats have “cried wolf” so many times in the past about “extremism” that the just public is going to matter-of-factly write off their hysterics about any nominee as pure partisanship.

What it all comes down to is that Democrats have very little leverage.

So, what they should do, if they were being smart, is vote for Roberts en masse. That allows them to portray themselves as reasonable and plus, they can always hope that display might influence Bush to pick a nominee who’s more acceptable to them. Put another way, from the Democrats perspective, it would be much better to confirm a Clement, Gonzales, or a Wilkinson for that second seat on the Supreme Court with 95 votes than to confirm a Brown, Luttig, or Owen with 55.

Personally, I’d rather that the Democrats overwhelmingly vote against Roberts because it would help show the public and the Bush administration that they’re not dealing with reasonable people. Fortunately, many members of the Dems’ liberal base are proponents of knee jerk oppositionalism to everything Bush does and so, they are demanding that Democratic Senators vote against Roberts.

That should suit Republicans just fine.

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