Saving Their Ammunition for Judicial Fights?

NPR ran a piece earlier this week about how Sen. John Cornyn has quickly established himself as “a thorn in the [Obama] administration’s side.” It explains that Cornyn’s efforts may be part of a larger plans since, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he needs to figure out how to “rouse a demoralized base.” The piece also contained this quote:

“There’s such a Barack Obama love fest going on that I don’t interpret his moves as partisan,” says Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, which works to get conservatives named to the judiciary. “[Cornyn is] concerned with process, fairness and the Constitution.”

Considering that Long runs the Judicial Confirmation Network and is therefore obviously concerned primarily with the issue of judicial nominations, this statement suggests that she is quite pleased with Cornyn’s early obstructionism, primarily in terms of setting the groundwork for eventual opposition to President Obama’s judicial nominations. 

In fact, this sort of preliminary obstructionism might be designed specifically with that purpose in mind, as Byron York explained in a recent blog post on why Senate Republicans didn’t put up more of a fight over the nomination of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

The reason is, Republicans have decided not to fight.  One key Senate Republican told me last week that members of the minority party have just so much ammunition, and using it against a cabinet official who serves at the pleasure of the president is not as wise as saving it to use against, say, a judicial nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the bench. 

York notes that this might be “good news for conservatives who hope Republicans will fight if Barack Obama nominates a series of liberals to the federal courts of appeals” and the Committee for Justice agrees, saying of York’s explanation, “We hope this is true”:

Obama has a chance to pull the judiciary sharply to the left even if he does not greatly change the make up of its highest court.  With Obama enjoying approval ratings in the 60’s and the media, along with the Democratic majority, trumpeting any dissenting voice as divisive, the GOP is going to need every bit of political ammunition it can muster to combat Obama’s nominees that are seen as activists and out of touch with American values.