Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rehnquist dead at 80

Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away last night, at the age of 80.

The lonely libertarian has yet read any reaction from the blogosphere, yet the question of who the next Chief Justice is to be looms large. Neither Scalia nor Thomas seem like good bets. Thomas had enough trouble mustering votes to be appointed to the Court in the first place, and Scalia is far too antagonistic for the job of Chief Justice. (As a Scalia admirer, I'd hate to see him as Chief Justice.) The best bet for George Bush would have been the recently retired Sandra Day O'Connor, but that's no longer an option. Look for Bush to appoint a new justice directly to the role of Chief Justice. I would not be at all surprised if it was John Roberts, who in his personality and opinions seems to have "Chief Justice material" written all over him.

As for Rehnquist himself, the lonely libertarian will remember him for helping to steer the Court in a more moderate direction, and for greatly limiting the Court in its decision of extra judicial questions. Most importantly, Rehnquist was a leader on the Court. For as often as Rehnquist sided with Scalia and Thomas, he was also never afraid to side against the conservatives of the Court in the name of stare decisis.


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