Whether Stevens moved left or the court on which he sat moved right, it's undeniable (and unsurprising) that a careful but intellectually curious justice would evolve over three and a half decades. That suggests to us that in choosing Stevens' replacement, Obama should focus on enduring intellectual traits rather than on whether a nominee possesses views that would augur well for the administration's priorities.
Some Obama supporters also hope that, specific issues aside, the president will choose a justice who will defend an expansive view of constitutional rights with the same combativeness displayed by Justice Antonin Scalia and other conservatives in pressing for constitutional "originalism." Even if the president finds such advice persuasive, he should insist that his nominee also possess the independence of mind that allowed Stevens to survive and grow over a long and remarkable career.
A New York Post editorial suggests:
In other words, it's not likely that Republicans and conservatives will be wild about the president's selection.
But we hope that Obama heeds New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer, who urged him to "choose a candidate who . . . merits consensus support."
In that respect, he should recall that Justice Stevens was chosen by a Republican president in an effort to win bipartisan support, though Gerald Ford could scarcely have been pleased with the ideological path his nominee followed.
I was curious as to what the New York Post removed from Schumer's quote, I found the full quote at TPM:
At a time when Americans are yearning for bipartisanship, we hope the President will choose a candidate who both merits consensus support and lives up to Justice Stevens' fine legacy. We hope both sides of the aisle in the Senate would quickly confirm such a nominee.