Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), one of the Senate's most centrist Democrats, just laid out his criteria for President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court.

"I don't want an activist on the bench," Nelson said on Fox News Sunday.

"Quite honestly," he went on, "I think we want to read the law, we don't want to read the justices minds."

Nelson is unlikely to disagree with whoever Obama picks, but it is worth noting that the word "activist" continues to plague liberal judicial appointments, even among Democrats. The word has been very effectively branded by Republicans, the same way the GOP has tried to define "empathy" in the last couple weeks to mean, basically, what "activist" now means.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com