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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Maybe Two?

Whispers are in the air that Rehnquist could announce his retirement within a week. I don't know how much weight to give to them, but it does present an interesting scenario. Thoughts welcome.

Personally, I tend to agree with those, like law professor Ann Althouse, who think that trying to tilt the court in a more conservative direction could make moderate/centrist Justice Kennedy into a more reliably liberal vote on the court. Then again, there's a good amount of conventional wisdom which suggests that it is sometimes hard to predict how a justice will vote once on the court. Case in point is Justice Souter (nominated by Bush I) and, to a lesser extent, Chief Justice Rehnquist, who was painted during his confirmation hearings as more conservative than he actually turned out to be in the long run (to be fair, when he was appointed it is likely that he was, in fact, the most conservative member of the court, whereas now it is arguable that Thomas and Scalia are to his right).

It is an understatement to say that the events surrounding any upcoming Supreme Court nominations will be interesting. Given that it's an off-year politically, expect to see a lot of fireworks on both sides of the aisle in the near future.

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