Let the games begin ...
Posted by: McQ
on Friday, July 01, 2005
Sandra Day O'Conner has announced her retirement from the US Supreme Court:
"This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor," she said in a one-paragraph letter to Bush.
UPDATE (Dale): You realize, of course, that this means war.
Justice O'Connor has long been a centrist member of the court, providing innumerable swing votes in closely-held 5-4 decisions. With a more originalist jurist, all of those decisions are now up for grabs.
About the only judge on the shortlist for the Supreme Court who might come close to filling O'Connors role, in terms of likely decisions, is Michael McConnel. He's quite the originalist himself, but he has a lot of respect for precedent, too, and would presumably be less interested in revisiting some of the issues on which Ms. O'Connor has provided the swing vote. Any of the other shortlist jurists, however, like Luttig or Alito, gets us firmly into the Scalia-Thomas type of justice.
So, if you though the rancor over judicial nominations to the appellate bench was ugly, you ain't seen nothing yet. If Bush puts forward Michael Luttig as her replacement, the Democrats will go full goose loony in trying to prevent his appointment.
Frankly, I'm not sure what the results will be. It's one thing to object to judicial nominees when some obscure (in the public's mind) Circuit Appeals Bench is up for grabs. The Supreme Court, however, has a completely different level of visibility and public interest.
This has all the appearance of a looming train wreck: ugly, vicious, yet, too fascinating not to watch.