by John Hawkins | July 13, 2005 2:12 pm
Boy, these Supreme Court retirement rumors just won’t stop! The latest one comes via ProfessorBainbridge:
“I got an email today from a reliable source opining that Justice John Paul Stevens will retire this summer if, but only if, CJ Rehnquist steps down. The theory is that Stevens will be willing to let Bush fill his slot only if there are so many spots available that Bush will feel free and/or pressure to nominate at least one moderate.”
Now, would I put a lot of stock in Bainbridge’s “reliable source?” Not necessarily — but, it is worth noting that there have certainly have been a lot of rumors lately that suggest Stevens & Ginsberg are going to step down this year, which would put Bush in an interesting postion.
Bainbridge notes — and this is probably conventional wisdom — that if Bush were able to fill 3 or more spots (O’Connor has already made her annoucement and it’s hard to see Rehnquist hanging in there another year), he’d probably stick a moderate on the court.
Assuming that Bush isn’t willing to break campaign promises, infuriate the base, and hurt the party in the 2006 elections just so he can put his pal Alberto Gonzales on the Supreme Court, my guess is that Bush won’t appoint a moderate.
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The reality is that no matter how much the Democrats and MSM howl, there’s very little they can do to stop Bush from appointing just about anyone he wants. There are 55 Republicans in the Senate and even though there are some very squishy RINOS in that group, I don’t foresee a case where there are going to be 6 GOP votes against a Bush nominee — well, unless we’re talking about Gonzales or a judge with a freaky Bernard Kerik-like background. Furthermore, a filibuster seems very unlikely as well since Graham and McCain are for all intents and purposes saying they’re willing to be votes 49 & 50 for the nuclear option if necessary.
Given all that, if you’re George Bush, you have every reason to appoint a conservative judge with every pick. You campaigned in 2000 and 2004 on appointing judges like Scalia and Thomas. Your base desperately wants you to appoint conservatives with every pick.
Plus, this is an incredible opportunity for George Bush. By shifting the court to the right after all these long years, George Bush can make his staunchest supporters happy, do what’s right for the country, and add another few lines in the history books all at the same time.
If Bush were to replace O’Connor, Rehnquist, and let’s say Stevens with staunch originalists, suddenly the count on the court would be 5 conservatives, 3 liberals, and Anthony Kennedy who might go either way. Then — if we get really lucky — imagine Ginsberg retiring, too and the SCOTUS being stacked with 6 originalists + Kennedy & two liberals.
That would change the face of politics in this country for decades. Every lousy decision of the last few years from Roe v. Wade to Lawrence v. Texas to Kelo v. New London would be struck down one right after the other.
Conservatives have been dreaming of this opportunity for decades and now George Bush may have the opportunity to turn those dreams into reality. He should seize that opportunity instead of wasting it by selecting a moderate justice…
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