Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president running for the Republican senatorial nomination in Pennsylvania, has an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he says he would vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor. Politically, it will be seen as a move to the center in a competitive Senate race. On the merits, Toomey hangs a lot of his argument on the need to get ideology out of the confirmation process.
I’ve said many times before why I don’t believe this model still applies. For one, it can’t be maintained by just one side. Barack Obama doesn’t get to vote against Sam Alito and even John Roberts but then claim a strong presumption in favor of his nominees as president. Second, the judiciary is increasingly unchecked by the elected branches of government. A confirmation process that is not a slam dunk barring a “complete meltdown” is a check that should be retained. Third, conservatives and constitutionalists cannot uphold their understanding of the Constitution by validating even the mainstream of liberal jurisprudence. Finally, if the Supreme Court is going to function as an unelected national policymaking body on issues like abortion, then we should care what kind of policies our black-robed masters will impose.
All that being said, it is a sign that Toomey can move away from the hard ideological role he played at the Club for Growth back toward the swing-district congressman he once was. Toomey once represented a congressional district that voted for Obama. Now he wants to replicate that feat statewide.