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WASHINGTON — What happens when an army prepares for World War III — and ends up in a border skirmish?
That question looms for liberal groups that have been collecting millions of dollars and preparing for years for a scorched-earth battle over President Bush's first Supreme Court nominee.
But now that Bush has chosen John G. Roberts Jr., a respected jurist with bipartisan ties in Washington's legal establishment, Senate Democrats do not seem as eager to go to war.
That means abortion rights advocates and other liberal groups lobbying against Roberts may first have to fire up their allies if they are to have any hope of blocking the nomination.
The challenge facing the interest groups grew larger Thursday when several moderate Democrats said they had not seen anything in Roberts' background to justify blocking him with a filibuster. The Democrats are part of the so-called Gang of 14, a bipartisan group that banded together this year to thwart a showdown over use of the filibuster against judicial nominees.
Some Senate Democrats say their low-key response to Roberts' nomination results in part from the relatively thin record of information about his judicial philosophy, given that he has been an appeals court judge for only two years.
But it also reflects a calculation that Democrats would have more to lose than to gain by quickly opposing a nomination that so far appears hard to beat. Such a move would probably fuel Republicans' efforts to portray Democrats as knee-jerk opponents of anything Bush wants.
"We're not shying away," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "But we're picking our shots."
One senior Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some Democrats believed Roberts' confirmation was a "foregone conclusion." But that has not stopped liberal activists from battling as if it were a wide-open contest.
E-mail alerts have been sent around the country, fundraising appeals have been started and petitions are being circulated.
"The interest of the senators may be a little different from the [party's] base," said Guy Molyneux, a Democratic pollster. "Senators want to look as reasonable as possible. But if you get a lot of Democrats saying this guy is in, it's over before the [Judiciary Committee] hearings, the base will be pretty unhappy."
So far, no Democrat has said that publicly. But since Bush nominated Roberts on Tuesday, Democratic senators have been among those offering praise for the nominee's intellect and credentials.
Statement from the International Action Center on the nomination of John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court
Judge John G. Roberts has built his career advancing the far-right agendas of the Reagan and Bush Administrations. He has worked to overturn abortion rights, blur the separation between church and state, undermine affirmative action, and advance a narrow right-wing interpretation of the Constitution.
The Bush administration will not give Senate investigators access to the federal tax returns of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., White House and congressional officials said yesterday, a break with precedent that could exacerbate a growing conflict over document disclosure in the confirmation process.
Originally posted by EastCoastKid
What possible reason would they have for not releasing his tax records?