I’ve been thinking about how Senate Republicans might handle a Breyer replacement nomination. My assumption is that they’ll rant about socialism and critical race theory and whatever else Carlson Tucker is going off about at the time, and vote nearly unanimously against the nominee.
But the smarter play on their part would be to play the embodiment of reason on the nominee, particularly if Biden nominates a justice who’s maybe a little left but well within the judicial mainstream. They’ve got a solid conservative majority now. Switching out Breyer for another liberal justice doesn’t change anything, and its not like they can force Biden to nominate a conservative. And confirming his nominee with a fairly bipartisan vote lets them say that all the talk about the process being broken is overblown, it’s entirely possible for Democrats and Republicans to come together on a Supreme Court nominee, all this talk about eliminating the filibuster and expanding the court is alarmist nonsense, etc.
It also keeps their powder dry should a conservative justice unexpectedly leave the Court during Biden’s Administration, which they will fight to keep him from filling with a liberal justice.
But they’ll probably just rant about socialism and critical race theory and defund the police and all vote no except for Susan Collins who’ll vote “yes,” but “no,” but “yes”.