President Obama thinks Republicans will engage in a full battle over his Supreme Court nominee regardless of the person's ideological leanings, and in some ways "that realization is liberating for the president" to choose whomever he pleases, an administration official told TPMDC.
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In comments that are at odds with the conventional wisdom about what Obama needs to do to make sure the Senate confirms his nominee to replace John Paul Stevens, a White House official involved in the confirmation process tells TPMDC that the President isn't taking a cautious approach to selecting a nominee. Despite having one less Democrat in the Senate than when Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed last year, the administration isn't limiting itself to reviewing only centrist candidates for the court vacancy, the official said.
"It doesn't matter who he chooses, there is going to be a big 'ol fight over it. So he doesn't have to get sidetracked by those sorts of concerns," the official told me. The GOP has attempted to obstruct "anything of consequence" put forth by the Obama administration since he took office, the official said. "The president is making this decision with a pretty clear view that whoever he chooses is going to provoke a strong reaction on the right," the official added.
The White House seems confident that because Democrats allowed votes on President George W. Bush's nominees, the 41 Senate Republicans won't stand in the way with the highly unusual judicial filibuster this year. After all, nine GOPers voted in favor of Sotomayor last summer in a relatively smooth fight for the president's first Supreme Court nominee. But this is a different year. Obama isn't just down one Democrat in the Senate, he's facing a frustrated electorate, a polarized nation and looming midterm elections that have Democrats from both chambers on the ropes.