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Sunday Sandy Special   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

SO LONG TO SANDRA D: By now, I'm sure most have heard that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring. Those interested in the story will want to monitor the SCOTUS blog's nomination sub-blog. There already are posts o­n "Which Important Precedents are Likely to Be in Jeopardy," with more details for non-lawyers, as well as cases in which Justice O'Connor's vote was not decisive, notably Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which declined to overrule Roe v. Wade.

The SCOTUS nomination sub-blog also has a post listing some issues coming before the Court in the upcoming Term, which might be in the minds of those considering the nomination. There are links to interest group reactions. There are profiles of some of the possible nominees there, with a longer list and and shorter analysis at Slate.

William Kristol, who correctly speculated that Justice O'Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist, would be resigning, also speculated that Alfredo Gonzales will be the nominee to replace her (though he now has his backpedal in motion). Kristol notes that conservatives would not be overjoyed with that choice, which seems right.What Gonzales has going for him is ethnicity (he would be the 1st Hispanic Justice), his long relationship with President Bush, the fact that he was interviewing some of the other possible nominees (as Dick Cheney did for the Veep job) and the apparent conventional wisdom that he would be more palatable to Democrats than some of the other possibilities (whih I'm not sure is true). OTOH, he was involved in advising the President o­n issues like torture (while it might not be entirely fair to hold legal opinions taken in the position as White House Counsel against someone as a judicial nominee, it would certainly happen) and would probably have to recuse himself from cases involving issues o­n which he advised the President (which should be a big negative to the White House).

As for the advice and consent of the Senate, there are views o­n the example of President Clinton's nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the left and the right. If I was a betting man, I would bet that neither suggested lesson will be followed.

If you are the gambling type, Oddjack posted odds for Chief Justice Rehnquist's replacement, so I would think the site may post odds for O'Connor's replacement, too. The old odds favored Luttig, Wilkinson and Alito. If I had to guess, I would say that while Wilkinson might be the easiest of the three to confirm, the WH will conclude that 60 is too old. Luttig seems (or seemed) to be the consensus conservative favorite, but that may change as a replacement for O'Connor instead of Rehnquist. Alito is conservative and Hispanic, so he may move to the top of the list, unless the WH concludes that O'Connor should be replaced by a woman. In that case, Judge Priscilla Owen, Judge Edith Hollan Jones, Judge Edith Brown Clement and (as a longshot) Judge Janice Rogers Brown are possibilities.

Regardless, with people House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi comparing the Supreme Court to the voice of God, it seems like some sort of fight will be inevitable. It would be nice if the debate is as elevated as the one between professors Larry Barnett and Cass Sunstein, but I suspect that won't happen.

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