Thursday, July 07, 2005


More SCOTUS Surprises?

According to Wonkette, at least two sources--a political blogger and none other than Robert Novak (of Valerie Plame fame)--have said that Chief Justice Rehnquist will resign tomorrow.

Now, this morning's sad events in London might make William rethink his timing, but not his decision. Could it be that there will be two vacancies this summer?

In that situation, I think it's pretty much guaranteed that Bush will put Gonzales on the Supreme Court. He can pay back the fanatic right with his other pick while ensuring that both picks sail through the Senate by giving Democrats someone who won't arrive on the Court with a "Roe: NO" rubber stamp in his desk drawer. (Bush did indicate, long ago, that he doesn't think the country is ready for Roe to be overturned--and anyone who has done the political calculus knows that the threat of abortion becoming illegal turns a lot of Republican-leaning women into Democrats.) If Bush crafts such a two-for-one package, this summer's acrimony might never materialize.

Of course, Bush could also try to get a three-fer by elevating Scalia or Thomas to Chief, replacing him with a Luttig- or McConnell-type judge, and plugging Gonzales into the O'Connor hot seat. But I doubt that such a strategy would be greeted with the same degree of acceptance by Democrats as the one above. Which way will Bush play it? Will Rehnquist really retire? Did he and O'Connor have this planned all along?

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