From E. J. Dionne at Real Clear Politics:
Republicans would be foolish to fight the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court because she is the most conservative choice that President Obama could have made.
And even though they should support her confirmation, liberals would be foolish to embrace Sotomayor as one of their own because her record is clearly that of a moderate. It is highly unlikely that she will push the court to the left. Indeed, on many issues of concern to business, she is likely to make the Chamber of Commerce perfectly happy. . . .
Obama may have found himself an empathetic judge, but she practices her empathy from the middle of the road.
A careful analysis of her record by Business Week, for example, concluded that she is a "moderate on business issues" and would fit the court's current alignment of such questions.
She also upheld a ban on federal funds going to family planning groups that provided abortions overseas. Sotomayor wrote that "the Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds."
Dan Gilgoff, on his excellent "God and Country" blog, points out that Sotomayor also ruled in favor of a group of Connecticut anti-abortion protesters who asserted that police "used excessive force against them at a demonstration." He concludes that her "thin record on abortion is most likely a relief" to pro-life groups. In picking her, Obama sent another signal that he is serious in seeking common ground on abortion.
Liberals should not take the bait of the right-wingers by allowing the debate over Sotomayor to be premised on the idea that she is a bold ideological choice. She's not. But if conservatives succeed in painting this moderate as a radical, they will skew future arguments over the court. In fact, liberals should press Sotomayor on her more conservative decisions on business issues, an area in which the current court already tilts too far right.
As for Republican senators, they have to ask if it's worth alienating Latino voters to wage a fierce battle against a woman who is, from their point of view, the best nominee Obama was likely to give them.