More Rehnquist Retirement Rumor:

My sister-in-law's hairdresser has a good friend in Washington whose close friend's brother works in the Supreme Court cafeteria, and he says . . . .

No, actually, I'm told by someone who seems like a serious person that Bob Novak just said on CNN that, according to Novak's source, Rehnquist will retire as soon as the President lands, which would be near 5 pm Eastern today.

Take it for what it's worth.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Rehnquist:
  2. More Rehnquist Retirement Rumor:
Well, Novack has been sitting pretty on TV all afternoon, looking self-satisfied with his little tidbit of inside information. Let's see if he's right - now that he's put a large part of his credibility on the line!
7.8.2005 4:20pm
John Tabin (www):
Marty Lederman at says Novak is wrong, but doesn't say how he knows that...
7.8.2005 4:31pm
The Dude:
I am ready for a Supreme Court shakeup (not that O'Connor's departure didn't create this already), but I will be really surprised if Rehnquist is willing to throw two nominations (one being the CJ) into the Senate right now.

Of course, I have no idea how long the process takes or what order they would do nominations, but given the uncertainty of the filibuster vs. the nuclear option, I would have expected Rehnquist to wait until O'Connor's replacement was nominated and confirmed.
7.8.2005 4:43pm
Snacktime (mail):
any possibility o'connor and rehnquist are worried about the 2006 senate elections?
7.8.2005 4:44pm
heldmyw (mail):
If true, I wonder what kind of circus will this bring to town?

...and here I thought it was going to be a boring summer!
7.8.2005 4:51pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Rehnquist might believe that it will be easier for President Bush to nominate a conservative justice as a replacement for *him* at the same time as appointing someone to replace O'Connor who is more moderate (like a McConnel/Gonzalez pairing). He can cut a deal with the Senate Democrats to get both confirmed and they won't feel like they've given anything up and both sides can save money and capital for the *real* fight that will come when Stevens steps down and President Bush tries to place a conservative (or even a moderate) on the court to replace Stevens.
7.8.2005 4:56pm
Seems like a plausible theory Mr. Jenkins, but for one thing: banking on Stevens leaving during Bush's term would be foolish. As previously mentioned here, the only way Stevens leaves before 2008 is if he is taken out of One First Street feet first.
7.8.2005 5:04pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Any chance the President will just nominate judges who will rely on the actual, original Constitution in making their decisions?

As opposed to whatever some of them are apparently using now?
7.8.2005 5:16pm
Moral Hazard (mail):
Not to be ghoulish, but it's entirely possible that Rehnquist might want to retire sooner rather than later because he realizes that he may be dying. It must have been a monstrous effort to get through the last term as sick as he was, and he probably realizes he can't do it again.
7.8.2005 5:18pm
Now Drudge is headlining that Rehnquist will retire tonight.
7.8.2005 5:18pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Three more years for a guy who is 85? I'd call that a decent bet. (Why is it people who disagree with me around here feel the need to call me, variously, stupid, an idiot, and foolish: folks, people who disagree with you just disagree, okay?)
7.8.2005 5:27pm
I didn't mean to call you foolish, I actually thought it was an interesting bit of speculation. I said that Bush would be foolish to count on that. I agree that for a guy who is 85, it may, in fact, be about an even bet that Stevens is able to wait out Bush. But, to risk giving up your ability to appreciably change the makeup of the court (we're not getting more conservative than Bill, and Gonzales wouldn't be a great departure from SOC) on that 50/50 bet would be, in my opinion, foolish. In my opinion, if he has two shots now, use them. Don't bank on a third shot to do what you want.
7.8.2005 5:35pm
Geoff (mail):

Don't bank on a third shot to do what you want.

But who's to say that altering the makeup of the supreme court is more important to Bush than personal loyalty to Gonzalez?
7.8.2005 5:42pm

But who's to say that altering the makeup of the supreme court is more important to Bush than personal loyalty to Gonzalez?

Not me...but, the premise of the theory was that the Gonzales plus conservative nomination would be aimed at conserving political capital for the real Stevens fight, not motivated by loyalty to Gonzales.

If his priority is to nominate a friend, and secondarily would like to nominate conservatives in the Thomas/Scalia mold, then Bush (in my opinion) would be foolish for another reason.
7.8.2005 5:52pm
Moral Hazard (mail):
Do we know that Stevens is actually waiting for a president who would appoint someone like himself as a replacement? Do supreme court justices place a high value on having a replacement with a similar judicial philosophy?

I've seen a lot of people simply assume this is the case for most justices, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually justify the assumption.
7.8.2005 5:53pm
Drew (mail):
Hazard: I think that in the case of Justice Stevens it is a safe bet. It is my understanding that he believes there should be a wide range of opinions expressed on the supreme court, and with Bush's promise to apoint a scalia/thomas like judge and Bush's current ability to replace O'Conor, and possibly Rehnquist Stevens is unlikely to give Bush another opportunity to make the court more homogenous.

I do not really understand the general sentiment against Gonzalez. More specifically I don't understand why everyone views him as moderate. True his position on abortion/separation of church and state is unclear but his position on presidential power is anything but. One of Bush et. al.'s long stated goals it to restore/increase the power of the presidency and it seems that noone is more likely to do so than Gonzalez. Additionally he followed supreme court precedent and written law when he wrote the opinions that every uses to support his pro abortion views. Yet on the supreme court he would not be bound by these unless he chooses to be. Bush would know best where he stands on these issues, and so if he actually is nominated its a fair bet that he would follow Bush fairly closely. I'm just baffled why everyone views Gonzalez as a compromise choice when he could quite reasonably be Bushes first choice independently of their friendship.
7.8.2005 7:06pm
Geoff (mail):
Also, apologies for failing to properly turn the link tag off. How do I edit a post?
7.8.2005 7:30pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):

Could explain Bush v. Gore!

7.8.2005 7:32pm
Rich (mail):
Those interested in SC retirements generally should take a look at a couple books:
David Atkinson, Leaving the Bench (1999), U of Kansas Press.
Artemus Ward, Deciding to Leave (2003), SUNY Press.

Both authors are political scientists. Ward explicitly argues that many retirements since '54 have been either political or because a justice tried to wait it out until a copartisan prez and just gave up (eg Thurgood Marshall). Both are worth having on the shelf, at least IMHO.
7.9.2005 12:08am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Could explain Bush v. Gore!

Except for the fact that O'Connor didn't retire in those four years.
7.10.2005 5:24am