Bench Memos

Another Step to the Left for Harry Reid

According to The Hill, Senate majority leader Harry Reid today “blasted Senate Republicans [who oppose the Sotomayor nomination] for being out of step with the country and conceded Wednesday that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor would win fewer votes than Chief Justice John Roberts.” 

This is the same Harry Reid who voted against confirming Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito and who even supported the filibuster effort against Alito.  If the Rasmussen Reports surveys that I’ve seen are an accurate indicator, the margin of public support for Roberts and Alito was stronger than it is for Sotomayor.  Indeed, as Wendy noted, a very recent Zogby poll had American voters split evenly on the Sotomayor nomination, with even Hispanic voters favoring her confirmation by only 47% to 43%. (I haven’t undertaken a careful study of the poll numbers, so if a reader is aware of contrary data—data, that is, showing more public support for Sotomayor than for Roberts and Alito—please call it to my attention.) 

Even if we set aside the fact that Judge Sotomayor amply demonstrated in her hearing that she is no John Roberts or Sam Alito, it’s worth highlighting that the number of Senate Democrats—22—who voted against Roberts would plainly have been markedly higher if Senator Leahy and others hadn’t made the tactical decision to preserve their ammunition for the next battle.  In addition, 41 of the 45 Democrats* (plus pseudo-Republican Chafee) voted against Alito’s confirmation and 25 supported the filibuster effort against Alito.

So who’s out of step, Senator Reid?

* I’m including independent Jeffords with the Democrats.  Jeffords voted for Roberts but against Alito on both votes.