George & the Supremes
Very big weekend to catch up on. Chief Justice William Rehnquist has died. The President in a very unusual move, switched John Roberts from the successor to Sandra O'Connor to the successor to William Rehnquist. A very interesting gambit.
Bush, anticipating a Rehnquist retirement, wanted to put Roberts as Chief Justice. And now he gets his chance.
First, let's get the Democrats out of the way. I'm wondering if Roberts' elevation to Chief Justice means that this is an "extreme circumstance" under the settlement reached to confirm various federal circuit court judges. If it becomes that, each of the Republican signatories needs to switch for a vote on the constitutional option to limit cloture votes in the case of judicial appointments to a simple majority.
But it won't. Roberts is just too clean, and switching this man with whom the American people have become comfortable and the leftist Democrat senators have become resigned as an associate justice to the Chief position was a move of pure genius on Bush's part. He killed the ferocious debate which the Dems were surely going to raise over a Chief Justice appointment. The Dems really can't safely argue anything about Roberts' fitness anymore. Bush dealt them another loser of a hand.
So who's next?
Bush has another opportunity to replace O'Connor. In my opinion, and from what we know, Bush has 3 or 4 legitimate options. He can choose Michael Luttig from the 4th Circuit (which he'd love to do), and Edith Clement is an option--replacing a woman with a woman, albeit more conservative, from New Orleans, no less making her all the more sympathetic a figure--but I think Bush may use the Dems' own game on them. If he wants a woman Janice Rogers Brown is the pick. A black woman from the South who the Democrats loathe and claim writes with a poison pen--which means she disagrees with them and writes effectively to the point that it embarrasses them. She can stand up to the Schumer/Kennedy/Leahy/Durbin abuse, and the Dems, if they treat her as rudely as they speak of her, will prove themselves to the nation to be the racist independent-minded black-haters they are. Or perhaps he could appoint the first Hispanic judge in Miguel Estrada with the same effect as Rogers Brown would get.
Very hard to say what he will do. But it makes for interesting watching.