Q&A Friday #17: Who Would You Like To See Replace Rehnquist?

Question: “Assuming Rehnquist resigns by the end of the month or at least the session, who are your top choices to replace him as Chief Justice and who will fill the vacant seat?” — Yankees62387

Answer: There are only two justices on the current Supreme Court, other than Rehnquist, whom I like: Scalia and Thomas. Either would suit me fine as Chief Justice, although Scalia would probably be my preference.

As to my choice for a replacement for Rehnquist, I’d select Miguel Estrada for a variety of reasons.

First of all, he’s obviously qualified. He gets the ABA’s highest recommendation, he has argued 15 cases before the Supreme Court, and he has a superb resume:

“Mr. Estrada graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College, New York in 1983. He received a juris doctor degree magna cum laude in 1986 from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Mr. Estrada served as a law clerk to the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then clerked for the Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

From 1990 until 1992, Mr. Estrada served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York. In 1992, he joined the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant to the Solicitor General. In those capacities, Mr. Estrada represented the government in numerous jury trials and in many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Estrada practiced law in New York with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.”

Furthermore, Estrada would be a great American success story. Imagine an immigrant from Honduras who came to this country as a teenager becoming the first Hispanic to ever serve on the court. Would that be a fantastic story or what?

Moreover, how sweet it would be to bring Estrada back up after the Democrats unfairly blocked his nomination to the appellate court and got caught with an internal memo saying that Estrada was “‘especially dangerous’ because ‘he is Latino.'” You cannot imagine how much fun it would be to throw that back in the Democrats’ faces during a highly publicized confirmation hearing!

Last but not least, Estrada is not just a rock ribbed conservative justice, he’s 44 years old. Given that judges routinely sit on the bench into their late seventies and early eighties, that means Estrada could be making an impact on the court for 35+ years!

Add it all up and you can see why Estrada would be my first choice…

*** Update #1 ***: There’s one other relevant point worth noting. As I mentioned earlier, if Estrada were to be appointed, he would be the first Hispanic ever appointed to the court. That would be a big deal, not just because it would be a first, but because it would probably mean Bush wouldn’t be tempted to appoint his good buddy Alberto Gonzales, who is much less conservative than Estrada, to the court if a 2nd slot opens up.

So if 2 slots have to be filled, Estrada could be the difference between two real conservatives being added to the court and one real conservative and an Anthony Kennedy clone getting the nod. That’s no small thing.

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