Few events mobilize as many interest groups and set Washington atwitter as much as a Supreme Court vacancy. In the Bush White House, I served on a five-person committee charged with recommending nominees for Supreme Court vacancies. We had the opportunity to do so twice, though admittedly it took us three nominees.
We collected thick binders of background material on prospective nominees -- not just opinions, utterances and legal writings, but everything from college transcripts to tax-return summaries to charity dinner speeches. We had years to prepare, update and review this exhaustive research. It helped get Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed within three months.
Just over 100 days in, Barack Obama's White House and Justice Department haven't had the time to properly vet prospects or complete the thorough review this decision requires. So Mr. Obama was wise to suggest that confirmation of David Souter's replacement would take six months. Five administration nominees have already been found with unpaid taxes, and Mr. Obama knows he has used up any capital that could have purchased forgiveness for such offenses by a Supreme Court nominee.
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