Friday, July 01, 2005

One Supreme Down

US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement from the bench. At age 75 and with an ailing husband, this announcement is hardly a surprise.

O'Connor's retirement will set off a storm of Congressional and public debate about her replacement. Her seat represents one of two relatively moderate votes on the Court, so President Bush will have to consider the nominee to replace her very carefully.

In his second term, President Bush has catered to the far right even more than in his first term. He has watched his public support drop, and he has recently been called out by Congressional Republicans on a variety of issues. Does he have the political strength to push a staunch conservative into O'Connor's seat.

I suspect that Congressional Democrats would be more likely to confirm a staunch conservative to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, should he retire, than O'Connor. That would be perceived as more of a swap that would not alter the current court's philosophical make up.

Just as it was starting to settle down, the issue of judicial nominee filibusters is going to emerge again, and this confirmation process will dominate the news once it gets into high gear.


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