Orrin Hatch: Stevens Retiring Within A Year Or So?

You think the Democrats are gnashing their teeth over Alito? Well, in a year or so, if Orrin Hatch turns out to be right, you haven’t seen anything yet.

From Matt Margolis, who got to hear Hatch speak at an RNC blogger forum in Washington:

“Hatch also believes that there will another vacancy before the end of Bush’s term. He thinks Steven will retire within a year or so.”

If Stevens were to retire and be replaced with a conservative justice, it would have the potential to be one of the key political turning points of the last 40 years.

John Roberts? He replaced another conservative, Rehnquist. So in essence, that was a lateral move for the court. Alito? He’s a solid textualist replacing O’Connor, a wildly shifting moderate. So, he will move the court to the right.

But, even after Alito is confirmed, the court will be split: 4 conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito), 1 moderate (Kennedy), and 4 liberals (Stevens, Ginsberg, Souter, and Breyer).

Now, you replace Stevens with a Karen Williams, Maura Corrigan, or Michael Luttig and suddenly, it’s a whole new ballgame because a controversial 5-4 decision of the last few decades will suddenly have the potential to shift the other way. That means Roe v. Wade, Kelo v. New London, and Bowers v. Hardwick, among many, many others could be overturned.

Getting Alito on the bench is certainly important, but if Bush gets to replace one of the liberal justices, that will be a selection that has the potential to really change things.

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