9.05.2005

Hail to the Chief's Chief?

I have to say that I was surprised by this morning’s announcement that Bush is nominating John Roberts to be the Chief Justice of the United States.

Why not nominate Antonin Scalia to the post? Let’s look at this from a practical perspective for a moment. Nominating Scalia would set a lower bar (sorry, no pun intended) for Roberts to be confirmed. All of the news prior to Rehnquist's death indicated that the hearings were probably not going to be all that contentious. Also, Scalia’s credentials are bulletproof, so that even the most liberal of opponents wouldn’t have grounds for opposition (yeah, sorry, that duck hunting story doesn’t have legs). Plus, Scalia is a known quantity, and that quantity is conservative.

While it’s morbid to think about, you can be sure that the Bush administration had already thought through the possibilities for a new Chief Justice. So why choose Roberts? Do Bush and Cheney know something that Joe Public doesn’t (umm, let’s restrict our comments here to the Supreme Court, not WMD assertions)? While you’re pondering that, you may also well ponder when you’ll hear that other shoe drop – the next nomination. My guess is that it will be less than two weeks from yesterday, and that guess is based on absolutely no facts whatsoever. That's why this is a blog.

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