12:40 p.m. ET: President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is only a couple of hours old, and reaction is already pouring onto the blogosphere along mostly predictable lines. Liberals are largely pleased, conservatives displeased and neither side, at this early stage, is predicting a particularly tough confirmation fight.
Two authors on the popular SCOTUSblog agree that "Sotomayor’s detractors will have a hard time making the case that her work is anything but thorough and thoughtful, based on a reading of the bulk of her opinions." Above the Law calls her "a tough nominee for Republicans to defeat, due to her compelling personal story." ATL also references one of the most famous -- or infamous, depending on your perspective -- pieces yet written on Sotomayor: Jeffrey Rosen's "The Case Against Sotomayor" in The New Republic. That controversial article, ATL argues, may actually have helped Sotomayor's cause by galvanizing support for her among various liberal constituencies.
Senate Republicans seem to be holding their fire on the Sotomayor pick for now, but the same can't be said for the conservative blogosphere. At Bench Memos, Ed Whelan puts his case mildly: "President Obama abided by his dismal and lawless 'empathy' standard and, in his selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, picked a nominee whom he can count on to indulge her own liberal biases." Whelan has previously made the case that Sotomayor's rulings have been frequently criticized or reversed by the Supreme Court. Verum Serum, meanwhile, has been drawing attention to a video clip of Sotomayor seeming to cast doubt, via sarcasm, on the idea that appeals courts aren't supposed to make law. Ramesh Ponnuru suggests she might just be "Obama's Harriet Miers." Oooh ....
On the Left, Matthew Yglesias says Sotomayor's is "the kind of story that makes you feel good about America and that still resonates as quintessentially American." Glenn Greenwald also references the above-mentioned TNR article, praising Obama for ignoring "the ugly, vindictive, and anonymous smear campaign led by The New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen and his secret cast of cowardly Eminent Liberal Legal Scholars of the Respectable Intellectual Center." At Daily Kos, Drdemocrat predicts that Republicans, in opposing Sotomayor, "may end up isolating minorities particularly Hispanics in the end. There may end up being a bigger wedge between the GOP and Latinos than there already is." TPMDC points out that eight current Senate Republicans voted for Sotomayor when she was nominated for the appellate court in 1998. Nate Silver has the complete roll call from that vote.
8:33 a.m. ET: It leaked. Sonia Sotomayor is the pick.
8:11 a.m. ET: President Obama is set to announce his Supreme Court pick at 10:15 a.m. Will the name leak beforehand?
8 a.m. ET: We'll never know whether North Korea consulted the American holiday calendar before deciding to conduct a nuclear test and test-fire missiles Monday -- three years ago, similar missile tests occurred around July 4th -- but deliberately or not, the secretive regime did President Obama a favor by committing its latest provocation during Memorial Day weekend. That timing served to muffled and delay the reaction from administration critics, who are only now returning from vacation to start criticizing Obama for his alleged foreign policy weakness.
Just in case the world didn't get the message yesterday, North Korea reportedly launched two more missiles today. The moves are widely seen as a test of the new president's mettle, and its decision to eschew a policy of isolation in favor of engagement with rogue nations. It's still unclear whether the White House was officially surprised by the timing of the nuclear test, but it is clear that the administration wants to project an air of determination and strength.
Of course, Obama's wasn't too worried to squeeze in a round of golf Monday. To use an increasingly common but still irritating word, the "optics" are never good when the president plays golf. But again, it was a holiday, so how many Americans noticed?
On the domestic front, when will Obama announce his Supreme Court pick? "As soon as Tuesday, or possibly by the end of the week," says ABC News. The Rundown boldly agrees that the announcement could happen today, tomorrow, the next day, or some other day in the future. You heard it here first. ABC narrows the field of contenders to Sonia Sotomayor, Diane Wood, and Elena Kagan, while the New York Times adds Janet Napolitano to that trio.
Whomever Obama chooses, he reportedly will activate his grassroots network and its famous 13-million e-mail addresses to marshal support for his candidate. The recent effort to stir up a groundswell of enthusiasm for the president's budget didn't go very well -- budget resolutions simply aren't good vehicles for populist excitement -- but a Supreme Court fight should provide Obama's political team with a more suitable opportunity to strut its stuff. Conservative activists are also primed for a fight, even if its one they don't expect to win.
Obama puts on his fundraiser hat today, heading to Las Vegas to raise money for Harry Reid. The Senate Majority Leader has decidedly mediocre poll numbers, but you can't beat something with nothing, and right now Republicans have no top-tier candidate raring to take on Reid. That means the GOP has a tough task ahead. As November 2010 approaches, watch to see how this race evolves and whether it becomes competitive enough that Reid is forced to alter the way he runs the Senate, affecting not only his votes but also which bills he does and doesn't choose to bring to the chamber floor.
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