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Preparing for World War III (Replacing Rehquist First)
The Weekly Standard ^ | September 8, 2005 | John Hinderaker

Posted on 09/08/2005 1:27:04 PM PDT by RWR8189

Replacing Rehnquist before O'Connor makes matters tougher on the Bush administration and guarantees a showdown with liberal interest groups.

A FEW MONTHS AGO, most observers expected Chief Justice William Rehnquist's failing health to trigger President Bush's first Supreme Court nomination. But Rehnquist hung on, to the surprise of many, and it was Sandra Day O'Connor whose resignation brought about the first vacancy on the Court since 1994. If that seems like a long time, it is: never before in American history have so many years elapsed between vacancies on the Supreme Court. President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts to replace O'Connor, and over the ensuing weeks, the Democrats and their allies in the press have subjected Roberts to a microscopic examination--which has failed to turn up anything of note.

Justice Rehnquist's death on Sunday presented President Bush with a new problem, which he promptly resolved by naming Roberts to succeed Rehnquist as Chief Justice. This means that Justice O'Connor will stay on the Court for the time being, and a new nominee will be selected to fill her position when she resigns following Judge Roberts's expected confirmation.

This change, though subtle, could represent a lucky break for the Democrats. Substituting Roberts for O'Connor would have been a significant upgrade, from a conservative point of view. Replacing Rehnquist with Roberts, on the other hand, is good to the extent that it likely represents another 30 years of conservative service on the court, but it will not effect a short-term change in the balance of power. In that sense, the key appointment has always been O'Connor's successor. And for that appointment, Roberts had turned out to be an inspired choice. The Senate Democrats and their supporters badly wanted to block the rightward shift that would be implicit in the replacement of O'Connor with a conservative. But Roberts proved to be an immensely circumspect figure. In 50 years, he seems to have said or done almost nothing controversial, while nevertheless establishing his reputation as a solid conservative. In personal, professional, and ideological terms, Roberts appears bullet-proof, and Democrats had more or less resigned themselves to being unable to block his succession to O'Connor's prized "swing" seat.

Now, the Democrats have been granted a reprieve. They can let Roberts go through with only token opposition, knowing that the philosophical composition of the Court will not change significantly, and concentrate their fire on Bush's second nominee, who will fill the critical seat being vacated by Justice O'Connor. One question, from a conservative point of view, will be whether President Bush can find another nominee who is both as solidly conservative and as non-controversial as John Roberts. Unfortunately, it is not obvious that he can.

Judge Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is regarded by many as a philosophical twin of Judge Roberts, and as far as I know his record is equally spotless. But he has served on the Court of Appeals for 14 years, and, unlike Roberts, has authored any number of opinions that could serve as grist for the liberal mill. Michael McConnell is generally recognized as the country's leading expert on religion and the Constitution and he was recently confirmed to a position on the Tenth Circuit without drawing a Democratic filibuster. But, while McConnell hasn't authored many opinions, he has spent most of his professional life as a law professor, which means that he has written prolifically. And liberals won't have to look far for ammunition; McConnell's 1998 article in the Wall Street Journal, "Roe v. Wade at 25: Still Illegitimate", could hardly be more incendiary, from their perspective.

None of the other solidly conservative candidates appears any less likely to engender controversy. So President Bush faces a choice: he can either nominate another conservative and trigger the most bitter confirmation battle since Robert Bork, or he can bow to pressure from the Democrats and the media and appoint a moderate, thereby forgoing, perhaps forever, his opportunity to move the Court in a conservative direction.

Pressure to appoint a centrist will undoubtedly be fierce. Indeed, such pressure is already beginning, even though the Senate has not yet begun to consider Roberts's nomination. Senator Dick Durbin said this week that he wants to know who the second nominee will be before he votes on Judge Roberts. Arlen Specter added, unhelpfully, that O'Connor's replacement should be a woman. It seems unlikely that the senator has Janice Rogers Brown in mind.

When the Senate turns to President Bush's nomination of a successor to Justice O'Connor, Democrats will no doubt rely in part on an argument which took a trial run in connection with Roberts's nomination: that President Bush is obliged to nominate someone who will not tip the ideological balance on the court. This is a theory that, to my knowledge, has never before been advanced. Certainly the Constitution seems to contemplate that the composition of the Court will shift with the philosophical and political views of the presidents who appoint the Court's justices; indeed, it is only this assumption which prevents the Court from being an entirely undemocratic and unresponsive institution. And, of course, Democrats didn't object when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to replace Byron White, which foreseeably swung the Court to the left.

The press, too, is already weighing in with the suggestion that President Bush is so weakened by declining support for the Iraq war and by his administration's alleged bungling of the response to Hurricane Katrina that he has little choice but to back off and nominate a moderate. This theory echoes the argument that was widely advanced after President Bush's inauguration in 2001; the argument then was that Bush's victory was so narrow that he had a duty to govern as a centrist--or, better yet, as though Al Gore had been elected. President Bush didn't listen to that advice; he proceeded instead to push through the first significant tax relief in a generation. More broadly, there is nothing in his record to suggest that Bush's decisions are guided by advice from the New York Times or the Washington Post. There is every reason to expect that when the time comes to name Justice O'Connor's successor, Bush will follow the principle that invariably guides him when he makes important decisions: He will do what he thinks is right, and let the chips fall where they may.

This is especially true given that the Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate. The president's ostensibly weakened state is pertinent only on the assumption that it may cause some of those 55 Republicans to desert him, either on a cloture vote or an up-or-down vote on the nominee. But it is hard to see any reason why Bush should fear this outcome. The Republican base is divided on some issues, but not this one: every component of the Republican coalition not only agrees that conservative, strict-constructionist judges should be appointed to the Court, but also views such appointments as among the most important presidential decisions. So it is hard to imagine any widespread defection by Republican senators if Bush appoints a conservative to replace Justice O'Connor.

If President Bush nominates another strong conservative to replace O'Connor, the result will be the political equivalent of World War III. Liberal interest groups will face an existential crisis if they do not fight bitterly to keep the Court's current ideological makeup. Win or lose, they have no choice but to make the effort to oppose Bush's second nominee. And, unfortunately for Republicans, it appears likely that any conservative jurist whom Bush may appoint will give the Democrats more ammunition than John Roberts did. So be prepared for the ugliest, most bitter confirmation battle in a generation.

 

John Hinderaker is a contributing writer to THE DAILY STANDARD and a contributor to the blog Power Line.

 

 


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush43; hindraker; johnroberts; liberals; moveon; oconnor; rehnquist; roberts; sandradayoconnor; scotus; sdo

1 posted on 09/08/2005 1:27:12 PM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189
I like the idea of a recess appointment of Robert Bork, with Bork making an announcement that he will step down upon the naming of his successor.

Then name Janice Rogers Brown as the proposed successor. The Dems can dis the black lady and keep Bork, or they can do the right thing.

2 posted on 09/08/2005 1:36:55 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: RWR8189

"None of the other solidly conservative candidates appears any less likely to engender controversy. So President Bush faces a choice: he can either nominate another conservative and trigger the most bitter confirmation battle since Robert Bork, or he can bow to pressure from the Democrats and the media and appoint a moderate, thereby forgoing, perhaps forever, his opportunity to move the Court in a conservative direction."

To battle, then.


3 posted on 09/08/2005 1:38:40 PM PDT by zendari
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To: RWR8189
Luttig. That's the guy I would pick. I would do it now as RUSH suggested. Keep putting so many obstacles in front of the commies that they won't know where to spread their venom.
4 posted on 09/08/2005 1:39:24 PM PDT by Digger (Outsource CONgress)
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To: RWR8189

It is just a delay.


5 posted on 09/08/2005 1:45:46 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: RWR8189

Nominate Janice Rogers Brown, and let the Dems filibuster. If they do, it will be political suicide. Plus, there's always the chance Teddy Kennedy will have a heart attack from getting all worked up about it.


6 posted on 09/08/2005 1:53:58 PM PDT by TonyXL
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To: zendari

In your dreams! The pubbies lost their balls a long time ago.


7 posted on 09/08/2005 1:54:12 PM PDT by Scarlet Pimpernel
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To: RWR8189

Actually, we're on WWIV. WWIII was the Cold War and we won. I guess this would be WWV.


8 posted on 09/08/2005 1:55:38 PM PDT by Little Ray (I'm a reactionary, hirsute, gun-owning, knuckle dragging, Christian Neanderthal and proud of it!)
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To: RWR8189
So President Bush faces a choice: he can either nominate another conservative and trigger the most bitter confirmation battle since Robert Bork, or he can bow to pressure from the Democrats and the media and appoint a moderate, thereby forgoing, perhaps forever, his opportunity to move the Court in a conservative direction.

And therefore foregoing, forever, any link between conservatives and the Republican party.

9 posted on 09/08/2005 1:56:51 PM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: ClearCase_guy

I like it....


10 posted on 09/08/2005 1:57:01 PM PDT by TruthFactor
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To: ClearCase_guy

That's quite an idea. Nominate Bork in a recess appt., with Bork saying he'll step down upon the naming of his successor. But I'd hate to lose Bork after having him even for a short while.


11 posted on 09/08/2005 2:09:05 PM PDT by hershey
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To: ClearCase_guy

That's quite an idea. Nominate Bork in a recess appt., with Bork saying he'll step down upon the naming of his successor. But I'd hate to lose Bork after having him even for a short while.


12 posted on 09/08/2005 2:09:22 PM PDT by hershey
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To: ClearCase_guy
...every component of the Republican coalition not only agrees that conservative, strict-constructionist judges should be appointed to the Court, but also views such appointments as among the most important presidential decisions.

A problem with this is that Sen. Specter is not part of the Republican coalition!!

13 posted on 09/08/2005 2:26:35 PM PDT by DmBarch
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To: ClearCase_guy

I don't believe the Constitution allows the President to make a recess appointment to a vacancy in the Judicial branch of our government. Recess appointments are allowed only in the Executive branch.


14 posted on 09/08/2005 2:33:15 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: RWR8189

"Preparing for World War III"

Too late, I witnesed the war lost from within at New Orleans, and it only took one day for civilization to evaporate.


15 posted on 09/08/2005 2:48:42 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: ops33

You are mistaken. Among numerous others, Earl Warren was a recess appointee.


16 posted on 09/08/2005 2:55:24 PM PDT by SAJ
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To: SAJ

From Article II, Section 2
"The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session. "

I stand corrected.


17 posted on 09/08/2005 2:58:58 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: ClearCase_guy; TruthFactor; hershey
" I like the idea of a recess appointment of Robert Bork, with Bork making an announcement that he will step down upon the naming of his successor.

Then name Janice Rogers Brown as the proposed successor. The Dems can dis the black lady and keep Bork, or they can do the right thing."

" I like it...."

" That's quite an idea. Nominate Bork in a recess appt., with Bork saying he'll step down upon the naming of his successor. But I'd hate to lose Bork after having him even for a short while."

Bork? BORK!!?? You've got to be kidding! First of all, he's a chain-smoking 78-year-old. Second, and far more importantly, he's a Class A statist. For Bork, as long as a law is passed by Congress and signed by the President, it is OK. Not exactly comforting for those of us who believe in the inalienable rights of INDIVIDUALS. Me, I'm big into the 2nd Amendment and what it protects...and I'm scared to death of what statists like Bork have done to emasculate it.

Bork - no thanks!

18 posted on 09/08/2005 3:24:03 PM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: ops33
Great thing about FR, it gets lots of people to actually read the Constitution...something I daresay the bulk of the political class hasn't done in decades.

;^)

19 posted on 09/08/2005 3:27:00 PM PDT by SAJ
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To: Little Ray
Actually, we're on WWIV. WWIII was the Cold War and we won. I guess this would be WWV.

WWV is the time station. This is WWW.

20 posted on 09/08/2005 3:28:00 PM PDT by RightWhale (We in heep dip trubble)
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To: ClearCase_guy

After Roberts is confirmed as CJ there will be vacancy on the Court.

O'Connor's retirement only becomes effective once her successor is confirmed by the Senate.

Bush could not name a recess appointment unless O'Connor agreed to step down.


21 posted on 09/08/2005 4:43:55 PM PDT by RWR8189 ( Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: SAJ

Not trying to brag or anything, but I have a Bachelor's Degree and 2 Master's Degrees and it is amazing to me the amount of practical information I have learned from FR!!


22 posted on 09/09/2005 5:58:03 AM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: RWR8189
Pressure to appoint a centrist will undoubtedly be fierce.

The GOP will succumb as they ALWAYS have ("Centrists" O'Connor, Souter, Kennedy, etal.)...

But IMO they have had their SC dictates from the New World Order for years now since a staunchly sovereign, conservative America will not do the bidding of the "World."

We shall NOT be getting that Scalia or Thomas justice we were duped into believing would be appointed.

23 posted on 09/09/2005 6:16:11 AM PDT by F16Fighter
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: democratstomper

Yes, you are right. I went back and re-read the section in the Constitution concerning recess appointments and my earlier post was incorrect. Thanks.


25 posted on 09/11/2005 9:01:48 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: ops33
You can "believe" whatever you want to; however, facts and knowledge are far better tools to use, when posting.

JFK used a recess appointment to the SCOTUS and it stood. Ergo, you really need to do some research on this and refrain from posting about things you do do not know anything about.

26 posted on 09/11/2005 9:09:44 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: F16Fighter
Is Justice Thomas a "centrist"? How about Justice Scalia? Was Rehnquist a "centrist"? NO, none of these fine men were/are "centrists" and every single one of them was nominated by a Republican president. Ergo, your entire post is not only damned dead wrong, spurious, but also decidedly puerile and an attempt to trash GOP presidents with a very wide brush.

But then your tinfoil appears to be far too tightly wrapped, thus having cut off the blood supply to your now atrophied brain, for many years.

BTW...Reagan nominated O'Connor, which would make him a puppet of the NWO, which you asininely imagine has any control over anything and everything.

27 posted on 09/11/2005 9:18:33 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons

If you go back and re-read earlier posts you will see that my error was pointed out and acknowledged. Thank you for your comment.


28 posted on 09/11/2005 9:21:58 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: ops33

I finally did come across it, as I read through the thread. Sorry; late to the party, was I.


29 posted on 09/11/2005 9:25:04 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: RWR8189

The Democrat party is in its death throes; only another war could save it.


30 posted on 09/11/2005 9:28:56 PM PDT by Old Professer (Fix the problem, not the blame!)
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To: nopardons

No problemo. I honestly thought that recess appointments applied only to the executive branch. But after the first person pointed out my error I went back and re-read the part of the Constitition that deals with recess appointments and it clearly states "all vacancies." One of the things I enjoy the most about FR is the opportunity to learn something new.


31 posted on 09/11/2005 9:29:46 PM PDT by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: ops33
Thank you for the thoughtful and kind reply.

The great thing about FR is, that there is always at least two ( usually a whole lot more ) people who know a topic cold here. It's amazing how much everyone can learn by reading threads. :-)

32 posted on 09/11/2005 9:38:25 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons
"Is Justice Thomas a "centrist"? How about Justice Scalia? Was Rehnquist a "centrist"? NO, none of these fine men were/are "centrists" and every single one of them was nominated by a Republican president. Ergo, your entire post is not only damned dead wrong, spurious, but also decidedly puerile and an attempt to trash GOP presidents with a very wide brush."

Try sticking these GOP appointed Justices in your pipe and smoking IT:

Earl Warren, Liberal (Eisenhower-R)

John Paul Stevens, Liberal (Ford-R)

Sandra Day O'Connor, pseudo-Liberal (Reagan-R)

Anthony Kennedy, pseudo-Liberal (Reagan-R)

Davis Souter, Liberal (Bush-R)

Can you imagine the strides made in conservatism if ALL GOP appointments were actually conservative?

But I digress -- I'd briefly forgotten you live on a planet in a far, far galaxy.

"BTW...Reagan nominated O'Connor, which would make him a puppet of the NWO, which you asininely imagine has any control over anything and everything."

A) Reagan was advised whom to choose as his appointments -- and naively trusted those "opinions" of his aides

B) Maybe you've got a better explanation as to WHY the GOP has opted to "balance" the political ideology of the SC with centrists and liberals -- rather than choose strict conservatives?

Ask yourself: Does a more moral, economically independent, conservative, and sovereign America help OR hinder the plans for an internationalist-dominated NWO?

Btw, have you EVER seen Democratic Presidents choose centrists OR conservative justices?

33 posted on 09/12/2005 6:29:11 AM PDT by F16Fighter
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