Last Two Standing: Sunday White House Trial Balloon: Alito or Luttig
The White House is clearly concerned about yet another Harriet Miers-style knifing. The information coming out of the classic unnamed "White House sources" has been reasonably consistent, although the variants have shifted somewhat from day to day. The key thing is that the White House wants to make sure that the next nominee does not get ambushed on the same day is announced. So the leaks are deliberate, calculated, orchestrated.
And it means the White House is watching the public reactions.
As we head into Sunday, the White House has narrowed its search to either Samuel Alito or J. Michael Luttig. This is according to Jan Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune, one of the very few reporters who identified Harriet Miers as part of the shortlist that led to her selection. The question now is what the public reaction will be.
ConfirmThem--whose bloggers led the attack on Miers--has been debating both judges extensively since White House staffers began spreading the word Friday morning that it would probably be either Luttig or Alito.
Key summaries from the current debates:
A few bloggers are hostile and suspicious of both. Neither has ever formally endorsed originalism. Neither is on-record for advocating roll-backs of existing precedents. Neither has given any clear or obvious critique of landmark outrages against an originalist understanding of the Constitution, such as Roe v Wade or Lawrence v Texas. The majority of bloggers would seem to prefer the president's short list to be headed by either Janice Roberts Brown or Edith Jones.
Nonetheless, the majority seem quite favorably disposed toward both. It is not completely clear which of the two is the favorite. Bloggers like the fact that Luttig is better known in conservative circles; is prominent in the Federalist Society; and is said to have the support of John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia--all of whom are close to him personally. Some worry that Luttig is too wedded to the principle of stare decisis.
But Alito has some vigorous advocates: "[Alito] will be more likely to overturn existing precedent or change the *basis* of the central holding of the case so as to nullify its effects...His intellect exceeds that of Luttig, most observers will conclude on close inspection. He makes less noise, but the superiority is undoubted."
So our Sunday White House Trial Balloon Poll: