President Obama is not the only one with a difficult decision to make in the face of mounting pressure from various groups. The Republicans will have to decide what posture to take: combative or deferential, political or analytical.
With Obama still at the height of his popularity, and with solid Democratic control of the Senate (even without Arlen Specter and Al Franken), the GOP is unlikely to sustain a filibuster or generate significant opposition to any but the most extreme nominee — such as the radical transnationalist Harold Koh, whose nomination to be the State Department’s head lawyer is currently pending.
What Republicans should do instead is force a full public debate about constitutional interpretation and judicial philosophy, laying out in vivid detail what kind of judges they want. Instead of shrilly opposing whomever Obama nominates on partisan grounds, now is the time to show the American people the stark differences between the two parties on one of the few issues on which the stated Republican view continues to command strong and steady support nationwide. If the party is serious about constitutionalism and the rule of law, it should use this opportunity for education, not grandstanding.