Replacing Justice Stevens: Can the GOP thwart Obama?

The GOP is threatening to dig in when Obama nominates a replacement for the Supreme Court's liberal lion, John Paul Stevens

Justice Stevens plans to retire. But who will replace him?
(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, 89, says he will "surely retire" during Obama's presidency, and The New York Times says the White House is preparing for confirmation hearings this summer. Stevens is a stalwart member of the court's liberal wing, so unless Obama can replace him with a like-minded jurist, Stevens' retirement could shift the ideological balance of the court to the right. But after a bruising partisan fight over health reform, Republicans are threatening to filibuster anyone Obama nominates. Can the GOP block the judge Obama wants?

Republicans won't lose anything by blocking Obama's nominee: "I'll be shocked if there's no filibuster," says blogger Steve M. in No More Mister Nice Blog. The GOP got away with painting Obama's health plan as a leftist disaster. "The broad public will have no idea that it's an act of extremism if Republicans filibuster three, four, five Obama Supreme Court nominees in a row."

"Filibuster the next court nominee? Why would Republicans refrain?"

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The GOP will probably have good reason to fight: Judging by the short list of Obama's likely nominees, says James Richardson in RedState, there's plenty for Republicans not to like. Front-runner Elena Kagen, the U.S. solicitor general, has been attacked by conservatives for lacking experience, and federal appelate Judge Diane Wood's record on abortion would be "a lightening rod for Senate Republicans."

"Stevens retirement makes way for second Obama SCOTUS pick"

Obama has good reason to go for broke: After the vicious health-care fight, says Domenico Montanaro in MSNBC, it arguably makes sense for Obama to "play it safe" and nominate a middle-of-the-road judge to replace John Paul Stevens. But even if Obama wins a second term, he may never have 59 Democratic senators on his side to help him seat a liberal in Stevens' image. So he might want to swing for the fences anyway.

"The next battle"

Republicans should cut out the nonsense: The GOP ought to be embarrassed, says Yael T. Abouhalkah in The Kansas City Star. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) warns the Republicans will filibuster if President Obama is "overly ideological," but they apparently think the overly ideological conservative justices like Samuel Alito are just fine. Republicans should quit this "nonsense" and let Obama, the court, and the Senate get on with their business.

"GOP's nonsense on Obama's next Supreme Court nominee"

Losing Stevens is bound to cost liberals influence: "Whomever Mr. Obama chooses," says Jess Bravin in The Wall Street Journal, "Justice Stevens' departure is likely to diminish the liberals' influence" on the court. Stevens' seniority helped him serve as a counterbalance to the conservative chief justice, John Roberts, in private meetings in which the justices decide what cases to hear. And Stevens has been very good at framing debates in a way that lured swing-vote Anthony Kennedy to the liberals' side.

"Court challenge: Replacing Stevens"

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