The departure will open the first seat for a Democratic president to fill in 15 years and could prove a test of Mr. Obama's plans for reshaping the nation's judiciary. Confirmation battles for the Supreme Court in recent years have proved to be intensely partisan and divisive moments in Washington, but Mr. Obama has more leeway than his predecessors because his party holds such a strong majority in the Senate.But, as Steve notes:
As far back as November, literally just a few days after the election, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, threatened to filibuster any of Obama's Supreme Court nominees he considered insufficiently conservative. That was 11 weeks before Obama was even inaugurated.As ever, we can look to the party of Great American Patriots to bring the country to its fucking knees so they can engage in ideological warfare exponentially more protracted and melodramatic than what they claimed was virtually treasonous, when the Dems merely asked tough questions of Bush's nominees (Roberts and Alito) and then confirmed them with less fuss than was probably even deserved.
With this in mind, and given the GOP freak-out over uncontroversial cabinet nominees like Kathleen Sebelius, a severe Republican temper tantrum is likely, no matter who the president nominates. If for no other reason, the minority party will see some value in working the base into a frenzy of hot-button cultural issues.
Just when it seemed the political world couldn't get any more interesting, one more huge task is added to the president's to-do list.
In good news, it is not unlikely that we could see the first woman of color appointed to the Supreme Court. Woot!