Thoughts on the Souter Replacement

Here are my thoughts going into the summer, as Justice Souter steps down.  I finished the third of three consecutive exams today (2 to go!), so I haven't been able to read much on the evolving situation:

1.  Replacing Souter with a "liberal" won't tilt the ideological balance of power on the court notably (this point is obvious to anyone paying attention to the court in the past 15 years) except in a few cases or areas of the law.

2. Barack Obama is President, and a president should be entitled to a nominee that leans more his way so long as the nominee is very well qualified.

3.  The high court could actually use a "full-throated" Brennan-style liberal to keep things intellectually healthy and strong.  I think this is what Althouse envisions.

4.  If Obama is going to pick a liberal-leaning justice, I hope he picks someone widely acknowledged as brilliant, like Cass Sunstein, not just a demographically appealing figure.  It does seem strange that no other woman has made it to the highest bench thus far, however.

5.  I think Obama's statement today is quite contradictory.  For example, the following two rather opposing graphs:

I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.

I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.

6.  MOST IMPORTANTLY - I think Barack Obama forfeited his argument for a smoother, non-divisive confirmation process.  He did this when he opposed the Roberts nomination while a Senator - a stellar candidate by pretty much all accounts at the time, Roberts should have garnered his support.  Obama undercut the heft of argument 2 above and should not expect deference from Republicans on his nominees as a result, even if they are qualified.  It's one of the negative things I noted that set him apart from John McCain - who supported Ginsburg and Breyer in the end.