Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Stuart Taylor, the always excellent court analyst for the National Journal, has written a review of William Rehnquist as Chief Justice and the court he has presided over for 18 years. It’s quite a thorough look for such a short article, both in terms of the legal analysis of the court’s influence and the more private aspects of the man. I had no idea how well liked and respected he is by the justices who serve under him, especially the more liberal ones. Well worth reading for those afflicted, as I am, with the potentially fatal disease of being a court watcher.

Comments

  1. #1 spyder
    May 31, 2005

    So Ed, do you have any ideas who is on the short list for replacing him–Scalia, Thomas, ??? And then who might be on the medium lists for filling the Associate Justice role?

    In another fifteen or twenty years, the hindsight on the Rehnquist Court will probably come down on the positive side, especially taking out the 2000 election. Lawrence Lessig recently reiterated a point that is often made, that the Court itself seems to make most of those who are chosen become constitutionally reasonable jurists. He himself was surprised by the effect that Rehnquist had on Thomas, for whom he clerked, in terms of providing a moderation to Scalia’s shrillness.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    May 31, 2005

    spyder wrote:

    So Ed, do you have any ideas who is on the short list for replacing him–Scalia, Thomas, ??? And then who might be on the medium lists for filling the Associate Justice role?

    I think everyone has pretty much the same short list – Michael McConnell, John Roberts, Michael Luttig, J. Harvie Wilkinson, Ted Olson, Samuel Alito, Emilio Garza. McConnell and Roberts would probably be the easiest to confirm, but Bush has shown a tendency to make the most controversial appointment possible when faced with such a choice. I think he may well name one of them directly to the Chief Justice position rather than move up a sitting associate justice because he doesn’t have any good choices from his perspective. Scalia is openly campaigning for the job, but he’s a bombthrower and not a uniter. Still, he’d almost certainly be confirmed. Thomas would get major opposition, most of it unjustified, and might well not accept the job if offered given what he went through the first time. O’Connor would piss off the conservatives, as would Kennedy. Kennedy is, to me, the obvious choice for Chief Justice, but given his opinion in Lawrence, conservatives would go ballistic.

  3. #3 spyder
    May 31, 2005

    I would like to hope that Rove et al, could create a compromise, moving Kennedy up and then trying out a more extreme nominee. I can’t stand Olson, nor Garza, and i am not familiar with Wilkinson or Alito. I can already sense the dread within me if we ended up with a Scalia court.