The normally-excellent Dahlia Lithwick, writing about sad liberal law students:
One of the most notable things about these events is the extent to which progressive students, faced with a Supreme Court vacancy, a Democratic president, and a Democratic Congress, are bordering on despair. [...]
But the hardest question I keep getting from liberal law students—and the most painful to answer—is why so few of their heroes are in serious consideration.[....]
By calling even Obama’s moderate shortlisters unhinged, conservative judicial activists have knocked any genuine liberal out of play in advance of the game.
But it’s not the “conservative judicial activists” who put genuine liberals out of play. It’s Obama, and the Democrats in the Senate, who are simply, totally, inexcusably and bewilderingly spineless.
I don’t believe for a moment that liberal law students are in near-despair because partisan Republicans say partisan things. (And if that does send them into despair, then they have souls far too delicate for the law, and should definitely consider moving to some less harrowing career, such as dog-walking). They’re in near-despair because the Democratic party leadership, from Obama on down, is once again posed to surrender without a fight. It’s an absolute betrayal of the base by the party’s leadership, and it would make even the stiffest-lipped liberal law student despair.
Tom Goldstein, in an outdated article that is nonetheless touted by Lithwick as the best explanation for the Obama administration’s refusal to fight, writes:
Look at it this way. Which of these three options is going to get President Obama re-elected: (a) 500,000 new jobs; (b) expanding health care for 10 million additional Americans; or (c) Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood?
We can ignore (b), since the Affordable Care Act has now passed.
I could abide an argument that the Democrats shouldn’t expend political capital on getting a solid liberal on the Supreme Court, because they’ll be too busy fighting unemployment. Except they’re not fighting unemployment. The Democrats aren’t going to fight for a better judiciary, and they’re not going to fight for significant job-creation, either.
They’re not going to fight. Period.
And that’s why liberals everywhere — not limited to liberal law students — despair.
(And incidentally, Mr. Goldstein, a despairing base is no way to get re-elected.)