How much will he withdraw from the piggy bank?

Given that many expect Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to retire soon, which, if he does retire, I suspect is delayed to give Justice O’Connor the spotlight, here’s my question: How does two nominations at the same time affect the nomination process? Obviously, the President’s staunch conservative base wants a right-wing nominee, which it will probably get. But if Chief Justice Rehnquist retires, as well, is this possible? Are we more likely to end up with two more moderate nominees, to preserve President Bush’s political capital? Or are we in for two brutal fights instead of one?

I hope it means two moderates, but I’m not counting on it. Your thoughts?

All the cool kids are commenting on it

President Bush remarked on the career of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor today. The part about her tenure on the court is fine, as we should expect. She served the United States for 24 years. Good for her. But reminiscing about the past isn’t interesting. I’m more interested in the coming confirmation process. In his remarks, President Bush said:

Under the Constitution, I am responsible for nominating a successor to Justice O’Connor. I take this responsibility seriously. I will be deliberate and thorough in this process. I have directed my staff, in cooperation with the Department of Justice, to compile information and recommend for my review potential nominees who meet a high standard of legal ability, judgment and integrity and who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our country.

There’s the first shot at “activist judges”, but the statement is innocuous enough that I’m not bothered by it. It can be interpreted as a shot against the judiciary and was probably meant that way, but it has no consequence since that line has been used so much that the quiver needs new arrows to be dangerous. So, moving on.

As well, I will continue to consult, as will my advisers, with members of the United States Senate. The nation deserves, and I will select, a Supreme Court Justice that Americans can be proud of. The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate, characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote. I will choose a nominee in a timely manner so that the hearing and the vote can be completed before the new Supreme Court term begins.

Those last two sentences were not innocuous. No one wants a rough confirmation process, but… okay, the leading Democrats probably do, but they’re stupid. Smart people don’t want a rough confirmation process. But smart people also realize that a non-“activist judge” who is an ideologue hurts the country because the “activist judge” nonsense isn’t meant to apply to conservatives. If we can get a nominee who rests in the middle, who actually represents the ideals that President Bush and Senate leaders use in their rhetoric, confirmation obstruction will be less effective, though probably only a little less vocal and prevalent.

Regardless, President Bush opened the process today.