(Feb. 1) President Joe Biden would do well for both the country and his own politics if he chose a mainstream liberal, rather than a radical leftist, as his nominee for the Supreme Court.

Biden has deservedly come under fire for limiting his nomination search to black women only. This means he is excluding from consideration about 97% of all attorneys in the country. His pledge is overwhelmingly unpopular, with an ABC poll showing 76% of respondents disapproving.

Still, now that the pledge has been made, Biden should ensure that he does not further divide the country, not to mention drive his own poll ratings even lower, by nominating someone who catalyzes a major confirmation battle.

Of course, Biden will nominate a liberal jurist. That is his prerogative as president. But there is a significant difference between an old-school liberal and a crusading, woke leftist. Plus, some potential nominees are of considerably better merit — in terms of the quality of their legal writing, their records in having decisions upheld by higher courts, and other standards — than others. A solidly liberal but noncrusading jurist of demonstrated high caliber, such as the retiring Stephen Breyer, may attract some criticism without spurring a truly nasty, all-out confirmation battle.

The public right now has become deeply cynical about the system of government that has blessed us for 223 years. Biden should feel a responsibility to reestablish faith in the system — faith that it’s not necessarily a blood sport; faith that merit can still trump hard-line ideology; faith that a broadly defined “center” can still hold rather than having “things fall apart.”

A nominee who can secure a couple of Republican votes and keep the political temperature down would help restore some of that faith.

What’s remarkable is that this even needs to be said. Not only would this obviously be best for the country, but it would clearly help Biden’s political fortunes…. [The full column is here.]


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