Even before the 109th Congress convenes, the battle over judicial nominations is shaping up as the defining factor of the session, says the Christian Science Monitor. Tax cuts and Social Security reform may top President Bush’s ambitious to-do list. But with the prospect that Bush may appoint one or more justices to the Supreme Court, both Republicans and Democrats are girding for an epic confrontation over the judiciary and its broad impact on American life.
Pressed by the most powerful interests in their respective party bases, both sides are already drawing lines in the sand. In speeches and postelection appearances, leaders are floating views on everything from who would be a fit nominee for chief justice to how Senate rules can be changed to limit the minority’s power to block a nomination. “It’s a storm warning,” says Ross Baker, a Rutgers Univesity political scientist. He says Republicans are threatening tough rule changes as a negotiating ploy.