The Washington Times - May 11, 2009, 11:03AM


It could be a fight of supreme proportions. Republicans gearing up for President Barack Obama’s impending announcement of who he’ll pick to replace the retiring Justice David Souter to the nation’s high court, are bracing themselves for a worst case scenario.

While insisting that they won’t “prejudge” the president’s pick, one senior Republican senator tells me that they are preparing for Democratic attacks to their attacks and attempts to push back on the nominee. From compiling a dossier of probable potentials to arming themselves and their surrogates with rapid fire facts at the ready, GOP lawmakers aren’t planning on a passive approach.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions has been named as the top “go-to” Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and has already had an initial conversation with the president, who is in the process of consulting senators prior to his pick. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, warned that Senate Republicans won’t be a rubber stamp for the administration’s nominee.

The president’s notorious “empathy” barometer as a litmus test to picking a justice (as opposed to rule of law) is “foreign to us,” one senator confides. And despite the president’s “assurances” to Sen. Orrin Hatch that he would not nominate a “radical liberal” to the bench, Hatch’s Republican colleagues aren’t convinced. They suggest that the president’s “promise” is nothing more than mere rhetoric. There is “no evidence” that the president has governed from the middle they say, and Obama’s left of center policies indicate such. 

No matter the fight, the senator admits, it “will be hard to defeat” whoever the choice is.

-Tara Wall is a senior editor at The Washington Times and Editor of