The institutional Republican leadership, such as it is, needs to retake control of the asylum from from the inmates.

Republicans certainly have an obligation to question Judge Sotomayor closely on her views of the Constitution. But they would be crazy to mount a full-scale offensive against her confirmation for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Souter.

The president has enough Democratic votes in the Senate to confirm her—unless Republican senators decide to stop her nomination from coming to a vote. But a filibuster would needlessly alienate the Latino voters who are vital to Republican electoral recovery. Even if the GOP was able to stop the nomination, President Obama would just nominate another liberal.

Republican senators understand the situation. They're prepared to respectably press her on her views before she ascends to the highest court in the land. But the party has lost control of its destiny to right wingers like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich who are more visible and louder than the GOP congressional leadership. Limbaugh and Gingrich want to lay waste to the nominee and in turn alienate the moderate voters Republicans need to recover from the beatings they took in 2006 and 2008.

To save the party, some Republican, probably one of the GOP’s presidential candidates for 2012, will have to have a “Sister Souljah” moment and take on Limbaugh and Gingrich and the anti-abortion fanatics who egged on Dr. Tiller’s killer. Only then can Republicans take back their own party and prove to independent voters that they are not hostages to right-wing conservatives.

Brad is the president of Bannon Communications Research, a political consulting and polling firm for Democrats, labor unions and progressive issue groups.