This article makes excellent points:
“In all the pieces already written about the impending fight to confirm Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s as-yet unpicked successor on the Supreme Court, no one has so much as suggested that anything besides partisanship and ideology will matter. Credentials? Qualifications? Scandal? Racial, ethnic and gender diversity? All of these considerations, so prominent in judicial appointment debates for decades, are largely irrelevant. It’s pure politics now, and no one pretends otherwise.”
It has lots of history of nominations and notes: “After the Bush v. Gore decision that gave George W. Bush the presidency—a 5-4 decision that both kicked off our era of partisan polarization and underscored the partisanship at work in the Supreme Court—several observers said it was time to drop the pretense that politics wasn’t central to the confirmation process.”
Here are some of the votes before Bush v. Gore:
O’Connor was approved 99-0
Scalia was approved 98-0
Kennedy was approved 97-0
Ginsburg was approved 96-3
Breyer was approved 87-9
I doubt that any future nominee will get 60 votes and the voting will be primarily along party lines. McConnell really amped up partisanship by stealing a seat. There will never be a moderate pick again. Trump has no interest in uniting the country but picking a centrist justice would be a good start.
Since Republicans are picking extreme conservatives, I expect Democrats to pick extreme liberals when the get their chance. Down the road, all decisions will be strictly along party lines.