Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Dies

September 04 10:15 2005 Print This Article

Bush has unique chance to name two new judges

WASHINGTON, September 4 – On Saturday the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, died of the effects of long-term thyroid cancer. As little as a few weeks ago there were reports that Rehnquist was expected to step down from his position because of his illness but he refused to do this and vowed to continue until his demise.

This sad announcement delivers a unique chance to President Bush, he now has the chance to name two new judges to the Supreme Court since judge Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement in July. Bush appointed John Roberts as nominee to fill this position and his confirmation hearings were scheduled to start on Tuesday but will likely be postponed until after the funeral.

Bush is now faced with several options, he could ask Associate Judge Sandra Day O’Connor to put off her retirement and step up as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This would leave just one slot open but it would be a temporary solution. Bush could also promote one of the sitting associate judges, this would lead to a contentious hearing and two more hearings for the positions as associate judges. The last option would be appointing someone from outside the Supreme Court, likely candidates for this option are Judges Wilkinson and Luttig from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and former Solicitor General Ted Olsen who helped Bush in the recount case of the presidential elections in 2000.

After the nomination of John Roberts, a conservative Caucasian male, Bush could be pressured to appoint either a woman or a Hispanic candidate. If Judge O’Connor retires the last woman in the Supreme Court will be Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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