On Tuesday morning, President Obama announced his nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court -- U.S. Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York State, who would be the first Hispanic to serve on the nation's highest court.
New York Times chief political reporter Adam Nagourney played the ethnicity card in a Tuesday afternoon post on the paper's "Caucus" blog, suggesting Republican opposition would be risky considering the party's low status among Hispanics.
President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has put the Republican Party in a bind, as it weighs the cost of aggressively opposing Mr. Obama's attempt to put the first Hispanic on the high court at a time when the party has struggled with sharp setbacks in its effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.
The Republican Party has been embroiled in a public argument over whether to tend to the ideological interests of its conservative base or to expand its appeal to a wider variety of voters in order to regain its strength following the defeats of 2008. Many conservatives came out fiercely against Ms. Sotomayor as soon her name was announced, denouncing her as liberal and promising Mr. Obama a tough nomination fight.
But some Republicans warned that the image of Republicans throwing a roadblock before an historic nomination could prove politically devastating. Republicans saw a dip in Hispanic support in 2008, after eight years in which former President George. W. Bush and his political aides had made a concerted effort to increase the Republican appeal to Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing group of voters.
"If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff," said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to Mr. Bush and a long-time advocate of expanding the party's appeal. "Death will not be assured. But major injury will be."
Nagourney cited former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd telling the party to roll over for the nomination and not even think about opposition. In Nagourney's paraphrase, Dowd warned "Republicans could doom themselves to long-term minority status if they are perceived as preventing Ms. Sotomayor from becoming a judge. He argued that the party could not even be seen as threatening a filibuster."
Isn't Sotomayor already a judge?