Toomey putting flame-thrower down?

Perhaps the most interesting reaction to Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court on Tuesday came from former Rep. Pat Toomey (R- Pa.).

The Senate candidate, who is known as a Republican's Republican and who has been going after centrist GOPers for years as president of the Club for Growth, sounded a strikingly nonpartisan note on her nomination.

JJust as it was wrong for liberal Democrats to adopt a knee-jerk opposition to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, it would be equally wrong for Republicans to oppose Judge Sotomayor on a partisan basis," Toomey said. "Judge Sotomayor deserves a fair hearing. If that hearing proves her to be of sound judicial temperament with the requisite knowledge of and respect for the Constitution, then she should be confirmed."

This last sentence is key, because it suggests that Toomey would actually been amenable to her confirmation. Other Republicans who were cautious about criticizing Sotomayor didn't even talk in those terms - suggesting proactively that Sotomayor could be OK.

Of course, Toomey got in the requisite shot at Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) for allegedly politicizing the nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

But it could be an early sign that Toomey realizes he has to moderate in order to gain establishment support.

- Aaron Blake

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