SC Nomination theater

Richard Hasen has a piece in Slate about how the current SC nomination may be related to what might happen if Obama gets to replace Scalia in a subsequent presidential term.  Given the vagaries of such things, that's much to speculative for my tastes.  That said, I loved his explanation of the current nomination process:

Before turning to the 2012 ramifications, let's clear the brush about
the nomination to replace Justice Stevens. Barring a bombshell, there
will be no filibuster. Democrats and Republicans have mastered the Kabuki dance: The president picks a nominee who has
been cautious enough on contested social issues so as not to be
plausibly characterized as outside the mainstream. Senators from the
opposition party complain that the nominee has not been forthcoming, or
is ideologically radical; staff digs for dirt on the nominee's past but
finds none. Senators from the president's party rally around the
nominee. During the confirmation hearings, the nominee gives
milquetoast, noncommittal answers, and comes across as likeable enough
with a heartfelt personal narrative. The opposing senators decline to
filibuster. The nominee joins the court.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell.  Don't expect too much different this summer, regardless of whom Obama picks.  It wasn't always this way, of course.  Basically, Robert Bork made the mistake of speaking his mind, and got defeated for it (though, it was the right call, the man was quite reactionary).  Ever since, nominees know there's nothing to gain by sharing what they actually think.  Of course that's a shame, and what we're left with is nomination theater.

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