8 a.m. ET: Attention, Supreme Court junkies: President Obama is not expected to name a nominee to succeed David Souter until at least next week, so there's no need to cancel those weekend plans. That's unless your name is Sotomayor, Kagan, Wood or Granholm, in which case you might want to stay close by the phone and be prepared to answer questions about your past decisions and comments. Oh, and make sure you've paid your taxes.
While a small team of Obama advisers vets candidates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has taken the unusual step of talking openly to USA Today about her desire to see another woman appointed to the court. When, if ever, has a sitting member of the court publicly lobbied for a particular nominee or type of nominee? Given that many of the potential candidates that have been mentioned so far for the post have been women, is Obama setting his supporters up for disappointment if he chooses to nominate a man?
We don't have a nominee yet, but we do know who will lead the loyal opposition. Jeff Sessions was officially elevated yesterday to the top GOP slot on the Judiciary Committee. The Alabaman warned yesterday against Obama picking someone whose "personal views" interfere with his or her interpretation of the law. But Sessions also called Obama "so nice" and, more importantly, said there would have to be "extraordinary circumstances" before Republicans would consider filibustering the president's pick.
As for the man Sessions replaced, did Arlen Specter rush too quickly into his decision to switch parties? It certainly looks that way this morning, now that Senate Democrats have decided to strip him, at least for the 111th Congress, of the seniority he earned over three decades on the other side of the aisle. For a lawyer, Specter seems in this case to have been overly credulous, taking whatever discussions he had with Harry Reid as reassurance enough that he would be able to keep his seniority and stay in line to chair powerful panels, rather than getting such a guarantee in writing or at least quizzing some other Democrats to make sure they were on board with the plan. Now he can't use his seniority as a bragging point on the campaign trail, whether in the Democratic primary or the general election, though that doesn't change the fact that Specter seemed destined to lose had he remained a Republican. He might be in trouble as a Democrat, too, if Tom Ridge decides to run.
The move by Democrats came after Specter suggested/joked in an interview that he hoped Norm Coleman wins his election challenge in Minnesota, comments from which Specter later backtracked. (More disturbing than anything Specter said about Coleman was his joke, in the same interview, about young Bob Dole and Viagra. Shudder.)
Specter and his fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats must ponder whether to take any further action against Bush administration officials who approved harsh interrogation policies, now that an internal Justice Department probe has reportedly concluded that those officials should not face prosecution for their actions, though they could be subject to discipline by state bar associations. The Bushies have been lobbying to soften the report's conclusions. The result could be particularly important for Jay Bybee, since it's best for federal judges to avoid being disbarred or impeached.
Meanwhile, Obama administration officials won't release the photos from that disastrous Air Force One flyover of New York City. Why? Well, because they don't want to. That was about as much information on the subject as it was possible for the press to get yesterday from Robert Gibbs, who said of the photos: "I don't know where those are." Maybe they're lost! Maybe the camera battery died. So many possibilities
May 6, 2009; 8:05 AM ET
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