Richard Lugar has become the first Republican to jump ship on Sonia Sotomayor:
Indiana Sen. Richard K. Lugar this morning became the first Republican to pledge support for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who appears to have largely diffused allegations of judicial bias during three days of intense questioning about whether she is fit to sit on the nation's highest court.
"Judge Sotomayor is clearly qualified . . . and she has demonstrated a judicial temperament during her week-long nomination hearing," Lugar said in a statement. ". . . I will vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."
Lugar is still playing by the old rules, however, which dictated that a president should be given great deference in Supreme Court picks, as long as the nominee was qualified (not much required, constitutionally speaking) and had that all important "judicial temperament" (no calling people scumbags or drooling in public). But not everybody plays by those rules any longer. A nominee's political philosophy is fair game, though efforts are sometimes made to call it something else.
Evan Bayh, for example, voted against both John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and he joined in the effort to filibuster Alito (as did Barack Obama). Of Alito, he said, "There is too much ambiguity and vagueness in his record in the important areas of presidential authority, individual and civil rights and whether he will serve as an all-important check to eunsure the balance our Founders intended." But Alito was a solid conservative, and his record clearly and unambigiously showed that. If we're going to talk about "vagueness," let's go through Sotomayor's testimony and see if we can figure out what she stands for. Alito just wasn't liberal enough for Bayh (and for Bayh's intention to seek the presidency). Sotomayor is liberal enough for him, and, apparently, for Richard Lugar, too.