Skipping a Sotomayor scrap

SKIPPING A SOTOMAYOR SCRAP…. After the Supreme Court handed down its Ricci decision yesterday, conservative activists and media personalities seemed awfully excited. Finally, the right said, a development that might be twisted into a cudgel to use against Sonia Sotomayor.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza, however, raised a good point. While conservative activists saw an opportunity, their Senate allies took a pass.

If there was any question of whether Republicans had given up on the idea of turning the nomination of judge Sonia Sotomayor into a major political fight, the events of the past 24 hours have effectively erased those doubts.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a ruling by Sotomayor regarding allegations of reverse discrimination by a group of white firefighters in Connecticut seemed like just the sort of thing Republicans would jump on to reinforce the idea that President Obama’s nominee was not fit for the bench.

Instead, crickets.

To be sure, people like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) issued statements hitting Sotomayor but neither GOP leader took any real rhetorical risks.

Newt Gingrich didn’t stomp up and down. Mitt Romney didn’t even issue a press statement. Judicial Watch and the Judicial Confirmation Network were certainly worked up, but the far-right groups’ enthusiasm apparently didn’t work its way to the Hill.

Cillizza talked to some party strategists who conceded that the party just doesn’t see much of an upside to this fight. Mike Murphy said, “I think the strategy not to rain on a very big Latino parade that could not be stopped anyway was a very good one.”

Stuart Stevens, a media consultant who worked for Romney, said he sees value in blaming President Obama for inheriting a mess, but added, “Don’t pick a fight with a tough girl from the Bronx. There are easier fights.”

Those on the right who hoped Ricci would be a game-changer for Sotomayor are likely to be disappointed.