The Supreme Court

May 21, 2005
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The current filibuster showdown is, of course, only a prelude to the upcoming fights over Supreme Court nominations:

Not since 1823 has the nation gone 10 years without a vacancy on the Supreme Court — the last appointment to the high court was 11 years ago.

Actuarial tables alone suggest that Mr. Bush would be able to name at least two new justices, and perhaps as many as four.

Justice Rehnquist, 80, suffers from thyroid cancer. Justices John Paul Stevens, 85, Sandra Day O’Connor, 75, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 72, also have been treated for cancer. Only Justice Thomas is younger than 65.

Some court analysts see Judge [Michael] McConnell, 50, as a prime candidate for the Supreme Court. He is a former law professor who was confirmed easily by the Senate in 2001 for his Circuit Court position. He stated during his confirmation hearings that while he sees flaws in Roe v. Wade, it is settled law.

David Schultz, a professor in Minnesota’s Hamline University law school and author of a new book “Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court,” also sees Judge McConnell as a front-runner.

“He’s probably the most confirmable of the names I’ve heard,” Mr. Schultz said. “He doesn’t have a lightning-bolt record. … McConnell doesn’t really have that smoking-gun decision.”

There are several others mentioned often as candidates for the high court, including:

• J. Michael Luttig of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, considered one of the most conservative judges on the federal bench.

• J. Harvie Wilkinson III, also on the 4th Circuit, who is considered more moderate than Judge Luttig but could be opposed by liberals over his opposition of affirmative action.

• Emilio Garza of the 5th Circuit, who would give Mr. Bush the chance to name the first Hispanic justice, but whose conservative views on abortion could prompt liberal outcry.

I’ve suggested before that President Bush should nominate a white male to replace Justice Rehnquist. The Hispanic nominee should be saved for Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement. Then Democrats would be forced to choose between the abortion lobby, and Hispanics.

Similarly Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American, should replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democrats would have to choose between the abortion lobby, and putting the first black woman on the Court.

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