For Republicans in the Senate, the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is a lesson in the law of unintended consequences and another unfortunate legacy of the mistakes of the Bush administration.
I have occasionally defended some of Bush's well intentioned mistakes, but there's no way to put a happy face on this one, because it is going to put a woman on the highest court in the land who believes that judges should write the laws, that some racial and social groups are more worthy than others, that gun rights aren't really protected in the constitution, that government can seize your property without due process and give it to businesses and that free speech is a privilege granted by government to some and not others.
The problem which faces Republicans in this nomination, is that they will likely find themselves unable to filibuster or oppose Sotomayor with any vehemence because she is Hispanic and a woman with a record of flaws which are ideological rather than ethical. Already great pressure is being exerted on GOP senators from party leadership to go easy on Sotomayor to earn some credit with the administration for the future. The fear is that opposition to Sotomayor may cost Republicans Hispanic support at a time when they need every new vote they can get and when Hispanic Republican politicians are rising on the national stage, increasing hopes for a breakthrough with that constituency.
The irony is that this would not be nearly as much of a problem for the GOP had it not been for a little noted failure of the Bush administration. The seeds of this situation were planted back in 2005, when Sandra Day O'Connor was retiring, and Bush floated the names of a number of Hispanic judges as potential replacements, including Emilio Garza, Alberto Gonzales and Consuelo Callahan. In each of these cases Democrat Senators told President Bush that he would face a filibuster against the candidate and his response was to back down and look for another nominee who was more acceptable to Democrats. The problem with this morally weak strategy was that it meant that despite his desire to appoint the first Hispanic justice, Bush threw away that opportunity and the chance it provided to score points with Hispanic voters and now that opportunity has been handed to the Democrats.