Chief Justice Roberts:
As I expected, President Bush has nominated John G. Roberts for the position of Chief Justice of the United States. It's an excellent move: Roberts is a natural for the job. Moreover, Roberts should be easily confirmed for the Chief slot. There wasn't particularly significant opposition to Roberts when he was nominated to replace O'Connor; the main argument of Roberts opponents going into this week's confirmation hearings was that Roberts might upset the balance of the current Supreme Court by voting more like Rehnquist than O'Connor. With Roberts replacing Rehnquist, however, this argument doesn't really go anywhere.

  The key question now is who the President will nominate to fill O'Connor's slot. The choice is entirely the President's to make, of course, so it's hard to predict. Not that this will stop anyone from trying.
Nobody Special:
My guess is Clement.

Here's why:

1) He's already vetted her in the O'Connor replacement search.

2) It lets him appoint a woman. I hate the affirmative action politics of it, but there they are.

3) She won't infuriate the Republican base. Currently, Bush cannot afford to lose them, which means no Gonzales.

4) Her chambers were in New Orleans. Could he play the symbolism off successfully? I doubt it, but it wouldn't stop them from trying.
9.5.2005 12:39pm
Clement's clearly a leading choice.

Frankly, I was surprised he didn't continue to rid out Roberts and name her for the first woman CJ. I agree about the horror of demographic politics. (Nixon's frenetic desires to look for : Poles, Catholics, Irish, etc. in his tapes is chilling). However, it would have been interesting.
9.5.2005 1:06pm
Anti-Anti-Federalist Society (www):
At least Clement could get out of New Orleans.

I agree with the Democrats that with two openings Bush should balance his appointments. He now has the opportunity and ihe should take it. He should balance the Roberts appointment with Justice Janice Brown.
9.5.2005 1:07pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):
Janice Brown? If memory serves it took her an age to get confirmed to the DC Court of Appeals. I suspect that even the most bi-partisan Democrats will hit the roof and come down with objections against a promotion to the highest court.

That said there are a frightning number of reasons for Bush to do this.

1/ He doesn't need to worry about votes at the next election
2/ He may be able to push the Democrats too far and use any major reaction on their part.
3/ Brown is on the DC Court which has traditionally been the feeder court for the top job- at least the main feeder court.
4/ She is a guaranteed conservative vote, at leat on the basis of the judg's opinions in California and on the Apellate court.
9.5.2005 1:51pm
Ulrich Bonnell Phillips:
Justice Brown was part of the deal that let some of the filibustered justice through.

Of course, maybe Bush should consider whether the Democrats will scream. I am sure they will consider what the Republicans think when they get back the majority :)
9.5.2005 2:26pm
Clement was also confirmed with 90+ votes, if I remember correctly.

UBP, your last statement could go either way. Partisan rancor is so bad right now, it might be best to get as many shots in as you can while you're ahead. Getting your candidate on the Supreme Court is a 30-year investment.

If the Democrats ever get the majority back and want to replace Justice Stevens with Al Sharpton or Michael Moore, I suppose Congress and the Republicans can cross that bridge when they get to it.

If Bush reaches out to the Democrats, maybe they'll remember it later, but I doubt it. The worst of the lot won't remember anything, and the best will say "too little, too late." The Republicans are just as bad, but they're holding the cards right now.
9.5.2005 3:09pm
david blue (mail) (www):
Gonzales. Bush cares much less about irking the "base" than he does about keeping his increasingly tenuous hold on power, and he needs a relatively smooth confirmation process - a hard-core conservative guarantees a prolonged struggle that he cannot afford because he has no political capital right now. Plus, he obviously likes the guy and wants him on the Court.
9.5.2005 4:50pm
Nobody Special:
Query whether Gonzales would be an "easy confirmation," given the approach taken at his AG confirmation, and the fire that the DOJ has come under since then.
9.5.2005 5:01pm
david blue (mail) (www):
A fair query. I think the answer is "yes," because the Dems know that, in terms of a Justice, they cannot possibly do better than Gonzales, so they will ask some pro forma tough questions but will give him a pass.
9.5.2005 6:31pm
JohnO (mail):
I agree that bumping Roberts to the CJ slot was the smart move, but it does create some problems. You're right that the Roberts/O'Connor comparison goes away bwecause Roberts is no longer replacing her, but the problem is that his next nominee will face that same issue to the extent anyone credits it (i.e., is the next nominee likely much different from O'Connor). The problem is that Roberts had a very good reputation across the political spectrum and could get some Democrats on board even if it seemed likely that Roberts is more conservative than O'Connor. Thus, Roberts had already survived the "can he replace a swing vote on the court" argument, while now Bush will have to face that again because somebody different will be taking O'Connor's seat.
9.5.2005 8:26pm
Phil (mail):
Bush should nominate Mary Ann Glendon. Diversity demands more justices that did not attend Harvard and we should have a least one justice who has not served as a federal appellate judge (as Rehnquist had not).
9.6.2005 4:44am