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Bush Nominates Roberts As Chief Justice

Roberts times his way into the CJ job. Scalia must be pissed...

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Monday nominated John Roberts to succeed William H. Rehnquist as chief justice, and called on the Senate to confirm him before the Supreme Court opens its fall term on Oct. 3.

The swift move would promote to the Supreme Court's top job a man who currently is being considered as one of eight associate justices.

...The selection of Roberts, who has drawn little criticism, helps Bush avoid new political problems when he already is under fire for the government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina and the president's approval ratings are sagging.

Getting a new chief justice of Bush's choosing in place quickly also avoids the scenario of having liberal Justice John Paul Stevens making the decisions about whom to assign cases to and making other decisions that could influence court deliberations. As the court's senior justice, Stevens would take over Rehnquist's administrative duties until a new chief is confirmed.

Court watchers can let us know if this is unprecidented (which I doubt), but surely it's rare.


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Comments (14)

It <a href="http://en.wikip... (Below threshold)

It ain't all that rare:
Some Chief Justices, like William H. Rehnquist, were elevated by the President after having served previously on the bench as an Associate Justice. Justices who are elevated to the position of Chief Justice from that of Associate Justice must again be confirmed by the Senate (a rejection by the Senate, however, does not end their tenure as an Associate Justice, it merely prevents them from serving as Chief Justice). Most Chief Justices, like William Howard Taft (a former President himself) and Earl Warren, are nominated to the highest position on the Court, and indeed in the entire United States Judiciary, without any previous experience on the Court.

Only three Chief Jus... (Below threshold)

Only three Chief Justices have ever been elevated from associate Justice: Edward Douglass White (1910) Harlan Fiske Stone (1941), and William Rehnquist (1986). The other 13 have all been nominated directly to the Chief job, like Roberts.

Scalia really deserves it. ... (Below threshold)

Scalia really deserves it. I hate politics.

The benefit I see in making... (Below threshold)

The benefit I see in making the change is movement by the Left to ask O'Connor to stick around due to the NO crisis/Rehnquist death/the children trying to delay the confirmation of Roberts. This circumvents that tactic or tool to find something on Roberts. While I personally prefer the elevation route to put an absolute known candidate in the SJ chair like Scalia or Thomas, who would really tweak the Senators' noses, this promotion from outside should be easier row to hoe.

The MaryHunter at TMH's Bac... (Below threshold)

The MaryHunter at TMH's Bacon Bits looked at a WaPo article discussing the importance of the role of Chief Justice.

I think what Kevin was aski... (Below threshold)

I think what Kevin was asking was whether a nominee for an associate justiceship has ever had that nomination changed to the Chief Justiceship.

I read somewhere that's never happened before. I'd bet the Democrats would like very much to insist that this constitutes a withdrawal of Roberts' associate nomination and that the CJ nomination confirmation process has to start over from scratch.

I would hope that, since Roberts' associate nomination hasn't yet beenv oted on, the Senate Republicans would resist that notion and simply carry over the testimony from the hearings that have already taken place. Show a little backbone for a change and make the vote they've already scheduled be for CJ instead of AJ.

He should push of Scalia. ... (Below threshold)

He should push of Scalia. Perhaps he feels Roberts is a more acceptable chief justice. He shouldn't really try to compromise. He gains nothing for it and if the shoe was on the other foot, Ginsburg would probably be made chief justice.

To those concerned that "it... (Below threshold)

To those concerned that "it should be Scalia",
there is reason to believe that Roberts could be a more effective CJ, because he would be better able to build consensus, win people over (to the conservative position!). Scalia's arguments are intellectually powerful, and he can continue to serve all by making them, but he hasn't been effective in winning over other justices, particularly O'Connor and Kennedy, who likely could have been persuaded more often.

My hope is that the intellectual force of the arguments of Scalia and Thomas, combined with a consensus builder who can both make a strong argument and make it "palatable" to those in the middle, can very much shift the balance.

Well now we know what the P... (Below threshold)

Well now we know what the President really is no friend of the Constitution. If the President were any sort of rightist and friend of the Constitution, he'd have chosen Thomas or Scalia, not Roberts.

Roberts has no place in the judiciary, period. He's too pro-establishment to be worth anything.

Hmmm.I still remai... (Below threshold)


I still remain unconvinced that Roberts is at all a conservative of any stripe. Frankly I also think that Bush will take this nomination of Roberts to the Chief Justice position as his "gimme" to conservatives and will then appoint either a liberal or a "moderate" to the bench.

I.e. the GOP/Bush will screw conservatives yet again.

Let's not over-estimate wha... (Below threshold)

Let's not over-estimate what the Chief Justiceship really represents. It's not like the Chief has any more votes on the Court's decisions than any other justice, after all. And Bruhaha is right to point out that when it comes to arguing the case for the conservative view, Scalia is already damned good. Making him Chief wouldn't make him any better at it, especially with idiots like Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy and Souter on the Court.

Come onnnnn...

bruhaha has a good point. ... (Below threshold)

bruhaha has a good point. I hadn't thought of it that way myself. I personally wanted Scalia to be CJ, but now I'm rethinking it. Scalia is highly intellectual and I have a deep respect for him. However, Roberts might very well be a better man for galvanizing the whole group. But, that's providing he is not a sheep in wolves' clothing. Something none of us seem to be sure of.

Suggested musical score for... (Below threshold)

Suggested musical score for the Senate Circus during the Roberts confirmation hearings:

The Beatles - "Everybody's Got Somethin' to Hide, Except For Me and My Monkey"

Scalia is 66 years old (iir... (Below threshold)

Scalia is 66 years old (iirc) it is not a slight to pick a CJ who is much younger. Roberts being nominated to this position kills the argument that he is a conservative replacing a moderate. Not that that argument had any merit. I would have liked to see Thomas elevated to CJ but Bush was right to understand that Thomas would have been excoriated in hearings again. Libs will lie and make noise but Roberts will be confirmed. They will save their venom for the next nominee.






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