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December 27, 2004

Judicial Nominations

Another take on the Bush nominations:

The guessing game over what sort of nominee President Bush might propose for a Supreme Court vacancy took a new turn last week when Bush renominated a dozen nominees to federal appeals courts who weren't confirmed in the recent Congress. Some were blocked by Democratic filibusters.
Liberal activists who have predicted that Bush would push the ideological envelope in making his first nomination to the high court said, "I told you so." But observers who think Bush might confound supporters and critics alike by choosing a moderate conservative for the first Supreme Court vacancy could draw a different interpretation from last week's renominations.
In that scenario, Bush was using the appeals court renominations to acquire political capital with his conservative base that he could then spend by naming a relatively moderate figure to replace the ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist if and when Rehnquist retires (or to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor if she were elevated to chief justice).
To put faces on this speculation, Bush might choose to replace Rehnquist with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rather than Wilkinson's harder-edged colleague, Judge J. Michael Luttig. Or he might choose John Roberts, whom the president installed on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit despite some liberal opposition.

Given the potentially large number of appointees Bush may have the opportunity to make, a sound but relatively moderate first appointment would go far towards calming fears on both sides of the aisle. It will be interesting to see whether the President takes the long view.

Posted by Cassandra at December 27, 2004 10:18 AM

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I absolutely agree. Americans don't like extremism of either stripe. Reports on the death of the Democratic Party are way premature, esp if the Repubs overplay their hand

Posted by: jeff at December 28, 2004 12:34 AM

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