But the last paragraph of an Associated Press story released earlier today suggests another reason why the prez is pushing hard to confirm Roberts as the 17th chief justice by the time the Supreme Court reconvenes on October 3:
Getting a new chief justice of Bush’s choosing in place quickly avoids the scenario of having liberal Justice John Paul Stevens presiding over court sessions, leading private meetings of the justices and thereby influencing court deliberations. As the court’s senior justice, Stevens would take over Rehnquist’s administrative duties until a new chief is confirmed.So much for Bush’s claim that expediting Roberts’ nomination is in the country’s best interests. More important to him and to his right-wing, ideological cronies is to block any chance that liberals might suddenly hold as many seats on the Court as conservatives do, and be able to set the agenda for the next session.
ADDENDUM: Now that it looks as if Roberts is heading to the chief justiceship (where he’s likely to stay for a very long time, considering that he’s only 50 years old), who might be tapped to fill the seat still left vacant by O’Connor’s retirement? Slate handicaps the contenders, from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to Judge Michael McConnell of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the execrable Priscilla Owen, who owes her position on the 5th Circuit to last summer’s “nuclear option compromise.”
READ MORE: “The Rehnquist Death and Hurricane Katrina,” by David Corn (The Nation); “Two Vacancies Give Bush a Chance to Solidify Court’s Right,” by Charles Lane and Fred Barbash (The Washington Post); “After Roberts,” by Michael Scherer (Salon); “Midwestern Scholar With a Steady Conservative Bent,” by Amy Goldstein and R. Jeffrey Smith (The Washington Post); “For Bush, Next Moves Are Key to Rest of Term,” by Dan Balz (The Washington Post); “History’s Justice: What Rehnquist Didn’t Do,” by Dahlia Lithwick (Slate); “William H. Rehnquist, Architect of Conservative Court, Dies at 80,” by Linda Greenhouse (The New York Times); “The Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist,” by Alan Dershowitz (The Huffington Post).