In it, but not of it. TPM DC

You've got to love Glenn Beck. The Fox News host put this Twitter post about the Sotomayor announcement:

Does the nominee still have Diabetes? Could the Messiah heal her, or does she just not want to ask? What is protocal (sic) on miracle healings?

(Via Media Matters)

Oops. The Republican National Committee prepared a detailed set of talking points for key Republicans to use regarding the Sotomayor nomination -- and then accidentally sent it to the media.

On the one hand, the talking points say to put up an initially fair-minded neutral approach: "Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor's record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments - which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations."

On the other hand, the talking points go on to lay out some clear lines of attack:

• Liberal ideology, not legal qualification, is likely to guide the president's choice of judicial nominees.


• Justice Souter's retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:

• Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;

• Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;

• Stripping "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;

• Abolishing the death penalty;

• Judicial micromanagement of the government's war powers.

Earlier today, Eric Kleefeld reported that several still-serving Republicans had cast votes more than 10 years ago on Sotomayor's nomination to the appellate court. In 1998, 23 Republicans voted for confirmation. Eight of them (including now-Democrat Arlen Specter) still serve in the Senate today. At the same time, 29 Republicans voted against her, 11 of whom are still in office.

Among those 11 are several who, in addition to opposing Sotomayor also are on record opposing the idea that judicial nominations should be filibustered.

"Since the founding of the Republic, we have understood that there was a two-thirds supermajority for ratification and advice and consent on treaties and a majority vote for judges," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), in a floor speech on May 23, 2005. "That is what we have done. That is what we have always done. But there was a conscious decision on behalf of the leadership, unfortunately, of the Democratic Party in the last Congress to systematically filibuster some of the best nominees ever submitted to the Senate. It has been very painful." Sessions is now the Judiciary Committee's ranking member.

And there's more.

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Apparent Sen.-Elect Al Franken (D-MN) has released this statement on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:

"I want to congratulate Judge Sotomayor on her history-making nomination to the Supreme Court. Confirming a Supreme Court Justice is among the most important responsibilities the Senate has, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I look forward to joining my colleagues as we examine Judge Sotomayor's qualifications carefully before confirmation. However, it is already clear that President Obama has chosen a remarkable jurist with an impressive record of accomplishment and a life story with which working families can identify."

It seems like just a few weeks ago, we wouldn't have expected this sort of reaction to the Sotomayor news from Sen. Arlen Specter.

I applaud the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Her confirmation would add needed diversity in two ways: the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the high court. While her record suggests excellent educational and professional qualifications, now it is up to the Senate to discharge its constitutional duty for a full and fair confirmation process.

Just imagine if Specter was still the Republican ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, fending off attacks from his right! Now he's a Democrat, though, and crawling slowly to the left. So his support for Sotomayor isn't all that surprising.

If the Sotomayor confirmation process turns into a bruising fight, expect to hear a lot of this sort of framing, from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Sotomayor, he says, "is a moderate who was selected for the District Court by the first President Bush and was confirmed with Republican votes."

Unlike the last President Bush, who solely sought nominees from the extreme right for the High Court, President Obama has not reached to the far left end of the spectrum to fill this vacancy.

It's a fair point, but as a rhetorical weapon, it's also something of a double edged sword. If Sotomayor squeaks by with the help of Democrats insisting of the importance of her moderate record, it could make it difficult for Obama to appoint anybody to her left, in the event of another vacancy on the court down the line. Full Schumer statement below the fold.

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"I will work closely with Senator Sessions as the Judiciary Committee prepares for confirmation hearings," says Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy about the Sotomayor nomination. "We are committed to ensuring that the next Justice is seated before the Court's term begins in October. I hope all Senators will treat this nominee fairly and will respect the Committee's confirmation process."

That's the ultimate question, right. Fortunately for Leahy, Sessions, and several other Republicans have a long record of opposing obstruction of judicial nominees, and Supreme Court nominees in particular. Unfortunately for Leahy, those sorts of records tend not to matter at all. Full Leahy statement below the fold.

For what it's worth, Sessions voted against her confirmation to the appeals court in 1998, but the question for now is whether the Republicans will filibuster her nomination, and whether Sessions will participate.

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele has put out this rather cautious-sounding statement on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:

"Republicans look forward to learning more about federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor's thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court's fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. Supreme Court vacancies are rare, which makes Sonia Sotomayor's nomination a perfect opportunity for America to have a thoughtful discussion about the role of the Supreme Court in our daily lives. Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has released this statement on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:

"Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.

"Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a 'rubber stamp.' Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications."

The Sotomayor pick promises to split liberal and conservative interest groups right down the middle. Here's Michael B. Keegan, President of People for the American Way, on the nomination:

President Obama has made a superb choice. Judge Sotomayor has one of the sharpest intellects on the federal bench. She's shown that she'll bring an open mind to the Court and rule on each case according to its particular merits. Her nomination is a very positive step towards bringing diversity to our highest Court.

President Obama used this opportunity to do exactly what he promised in last year's election - to select a person who has demonstrated an abiding commitment to core constitutional values of justice, opportunity, and equality under the law. He has named someone who understands the impact that the law has on the everyday lives of ordinary Americans.

This nomination is good news for people who care about the future of our rights and liberties. Now it's up to our Senators to avoid the distraction of attacks from the far right and work for a smooth, fair confirmation process. We urge them to confirm Judge Sotomayor with all deliberate speed.