Sunday, June 19, 2005

And the next chief justice is...

According to the Post (see here), the three likeliest nominees are appellate judges John Roberts and Michael Luttig, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Other possibilities are appellate judges Michael McConnell, Harvie Wilkinson, and Emilio Garza, and former solicitor general Ted Olson. With Rehnquist's retirement coming soon, likely as soon as the Supreme Court's current term ends next week, we could be in for a significant summer battle over his successor.

Or perhaps not. After all, the Democrats likely won't challenge Rehnquist's replacement as strenuously they will the replacement of one of the more liberal justices. They may back off here, where the Court's balance isn't at stake, and instead save their ammunition for more important battles yet to come. In the meantime, Bush has a big decision to make, one that could cause a rift within the Republican Party if he doesn't go with a hardcore conservative to appease the right. Looking at the list of possible nominees, however, you know you're already in trouble when Gonzales (whom I opposed when his nomination came up for attorney general) seems like the best of the bunch.

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  • I don't know much about these. Several months ago, The New Republic ran a piece rating the various conservative candidates in terms of how reasonable they were and how accepting of stare decisis. The gist of the article was that some conservatives would be ok, but I don't remember which ones it advocated.

    Given Bush, I suspect it's inevitable that he will pick the most conservative and the one most likely to stir up a fight. For one thing, he always benefits from feeding the base--whatever problems he might be having with the war, Social Security, etc., he can always get a boost from fueling the culture wars. I don't see any reason to think that Bush has any inclination to be reasonable or to reach out to the Democrats. And he can always benefit by making the Democrats look unreasonable--because the party opposing a nominee always looks unreasonable. But you are probably right--the Dems won't fight as hard against Rehnquist's replacement.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 AM  

  • You might be right, Marc. Bush might just play to his base on the far right. And Democrats will likely back off after throwing up an initial stink.

    But what if it's O'Conner, as Bill Kristol is reporting in The Weekly Standard? Or what if one of the liberals retires soon? Then we'll be in for a bloody battle.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 1:47 AM  

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