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Yes, I'm hearing the rumors too

I'm talking about the rumors that both William Rehnquist and John Paul Stevens will be announcing their retirement from the Supreme Court.

I don't know if they're true or not, but I have marveled at the fact that Stevens has not entered more into the discussion of late. Yes, I know Rehnquist has cancer, but Stevens is like, what, 130? Didn't Millard Fillmore appoint him or something? Or one of those other "painted" presidents that we don't have actual photographs of? Wasn't he that "I have not yet begun to fight!" guy? No, maybe that was John Paul II.

Anyway, I'm not saying it's true, but no one should be surprised if it is. It would, however, change the entire calculus of the SCOTUS "war," to use Chuck Schumer's term. For all the brouhaha surrounding O'Connor and Rehnquist, it is highly doubtful that Bush could use their departure to move the Court significantly to the Right.

To see why, let's do some arithmetic. Let's assign the justices a "conservative" quotient from 1 to 10 (although I dislike using the term "conservative" to describe judicial nominees, I'll employ it now for convenience.) Rehnquist has probably earned himself a 10 or close to it, while O'Connor would probably muster no more than a 7 on a good day. That means the Supreme Court would lose 17 conservative points by their retirement. In the current political environment, with Schumer declaring jihad even before a nominee is selected, and the various left-wing interest groups having been mobilized for weeks already, it's very unlikely that Bush could push through a nominee more conservative than an 8-and-a-half at the outside. If he gets two such nominees he's back up at 17 and the whole thing's a wash. So the real question was never really about whether Bush could shift the court rightward, but rather whether his opponents could shift it leftward.

But Stevens changes the whole thing. He's got a conservative quotient of about one. Throw him into the mix and SCOTUS stands to lose 18 Conservative Points and pick up 25-plus. That's a net gain of seven-ish Conservative Points, or about one Sandra Day O'Connor. Interesting.


Stevens is probably the best justice in the Supreme Court. Despite the wishful thinking of the far right, the supreme court will never become more conservative. It simply can not happen.

I'm laughing. You would assign O' Connor a 'conservative' ranking of 7 out of 10? No way. She's desicrated Reagan's hope with her time on the court -- she was a pragmatist, not a ideolague (much less a conservative one); something a Supreme Court Justice should never be as every case heard is a question of ideology...

Replacing two or more justices could easily make the court more conservative, even if the good ol' Chief resigns...especially if Stevens resigns.

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