Monday, September 05, 2005


The recent retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, combined now with the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist has faciltated President G. W. Bush's double-appointment to the Court.

But who will they be? There was a lot of speculation prior to the July announcement of John Roberts' nomination to succeed O'Connor. Today President Bush announced that he intends to offer John Roberts as his appointee as Chief Justice to succeed William Rehnquist who passed away Saturday night from thyroid cancer.[1] This decision will fill, if approved by the Senate, the vacancy left by Rehnquist's death, but will once again open up O'Connor's seat to be filled.

Some analysts anticipated this move, speculating that Justice O'Connor may temporarily return from retirement and fill the vacancy.[2] Sunday morning, Susan Estrich, a law professor at USC correctly surmised that President Bush would "move John Roberts up to Chief Justice" and suggested that the remaining appointment would be Edith Clement.[3] On the other hand, Tom Goldstein, the founding editor of, suggested yesterday morning that Alberto Gonzales would probably be the most-likely appointee to be named. He cautiously added that there were "a half dozen very-well respected judges and other officials who could be nominated."[4] Edith Clement, Priscilla Owen, Michael Luttig, and Jay Harvey Wilkinson are the other likely candidates suggested by Goldstein.[4]

Either way, I don't think any candidate offered to the position will have an "easy ride," whether they be Liberal, Conservative, or Moderate. I believe the opposition of factions from both Conservative and Liberal groups to Roberts' nomination has proven that. Bill Frist (R-TN) said today that he believes that "Judge Roberts will be confirmed before the start of the Supreme Court's term,"[5] while Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, "the burden is on Judge Roberts to a far greater extent now that he is nominated for Chief Justice."[5] Former Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork said tonight that "the liberals will do everything they can to derail Roberts."[6] Personally, I think the smear campaign is going to continue and that Frist's analysis is wishful thinking.

One thing is clear, though: President Bush has a rare opportunity to help shape the direction of the Supreme Court for decades. Rehnquist, who was widely-preceived as a Constitutionalist, was nominated by President Nixon in 1971 and served on the Court for nearly 34 years, 19 of them as Chief Justice.[7] With a lifetime appointment to the Court at age 50, Roberts will potenially be shaping the Court for quite some time. Even with two Originalist appointments to the Court, the Liberals on the Court will still outweigh the Conservatives; but even one "stealth" appointment of a "closet Liberal" will be devastating.

While one of Rehnquist's major stances was in favor of States' rights, Judge Andrew Napolitano voiced the opinion that appears to be the majority consensus: that Rehnquist was "faithful to the Constitution" and that his "fidelity [to] the Constitution" will be his legacy.[3] Robert Bork said of Rehnquist, "We didn't always agree on issues, but he was very good..."[6] My prayers are with the President as he makes these careful nominations and with the Senate as they confirm them. We can only hope and pray that whomever fills the vacancies will follow Rehnquist's lead and defend our country from whose who would usurp the Constitution. Another Thomas or Scalia would be a much welcome addition to the Court, but another Souter, Breyer, Stevens, or Ginsberg would be a disaster.


Click here for a previous article on the Supreme Court vacancy.


[1] President George W. Bush, Press Conference, 09/05/05, 8:00 am ET
[2] Special Report w/Brit Hume, FOX News Channel, 09/05/05, 6:00 pm ET
[3] FOX News Special Report, FOX News Channel, 09/04/05, 5:00 am ET
[4] Fox & Friends Sunday, FOX News Channel, 09/04/05, 8:45 am ET
[5] FOX News Alert, FOX News Channel, 09/05/05. 9:30 pm ET
[6] Hannity & Colmes, FOX News Channel, 09/05/05, 9:00 pm ET
[7] FOX News Alert, FOX News Channel, 09/04/05, 2:00 am ET


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