Prof Farlei Martins envia a seguinte matéria:
The New York Times
May 26, 2009, 1:30 pm
Republicans Weigh Risks of a Supreme Court Battle
By Adam Nagourney
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.
“The G.OP. has to make a stand,” said Scott Reed, manager of the 1996
presidential campaign of Bob Dole. “This is what the base and social
conservatives really care about, and we need to brand her a liberal with
some out-of-the-mainstream positions. Forget about cosmetics and ethnic
heritage, and focus on her record.”
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.”
Matthew Dowd, another one-time adviser to Mr. Bush, said that in 2000, he
calculated that Republicans needed to win 35 percent of Hispanics to beat
Democrats. He said that given the steady increase in the number of Hispanic
voters, he now believed Republicans needed to win a minimum of 40 percent to
be competitive with Democrats.
As a result, he said, barring any revelation about Ms. Sotomayor’s
background, 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.
“Because you’ll have a bunch of white males who lead the Judiciary Committee
leading the charge taking on an Hispanic women and everybody from this day
forward is going to know she’s totally qualified,” he said. “It’s a bad
visual. It’s bad symbolism for the Republicans.”
“Republicans have to tread very lightly,” he said. “They can’t look they are
going after her in any kind of personal or mean way. There’s no way they can
even threaten a filibuster; I think a threat of that sort would be a
problem, even if they didn’t do it.”
The conflicting pressures became clear throughout the day as conservative
groups came out against Ms. Sotomayor. From the start, conservative leaders
have made clear that they viewed the prospect of an ideologically charged
nomination fight as a way to revive a movement that is lagging in spirits
“Judge Sotomayor is a liberal activist of the first order who thinks her own
personal political agenda is more important than the law as written,” said
Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative
group that has been preparing for this battle.
Mr. Bush, who is from Texas, pushed hard from the moment he ran for
president in 2000 to appeal to Hispanic voters, and with considerable
success. His aides argued that given the increasing size of that segment of
the electorate, building support among Hispanics was a crucial part of
trying to achieve dominance over Democrats. But the Republican effort
suffered a sharp setback when Republicans, over the objections of Mr. Bush,
pressed to severely restrict immigration.
The party’s 2008 presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, had
long been a proponent of easing immigration restrictions, and almost lost
his party’s nomination because of that. In the end, he received 31 percent
of the Hispanic vote, according to a survey of voters leaving the polls. By
contrast, four years earlier, Mr. Bush won 43 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Mr. Dowd said the party’s first risk would be in national elections. But he
said it could trickle down into the states as well – particularly in places
like Texas, which has a big Hispanic vote. If Hispanics begin turning toward
Democrats, he said, Texas – now a reliably Republican state – could quickly
turn into a swing state.
“If they don’t get back to a place where they are getting roughly 40 percent
net of the Hispanic vote, there is no way they can ever win,” he said.
Socially conservative Hispanic Christians, a pivotal group that Republicans
have tried with mixed success to woo, warned that the party’s effort could
be set back if conservatives attacked her.
“As a conservative, it could be worse,” said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., who
as president of the national Hispanic Christian group Esperanza USA was
personally courted by President George W. Bush and has since appeared at the
Obama White House. “And as Latino, it can’t be better.”
John Harwood and David Kirkpatrick contributed to this post.